ALA Unveils Shortlist for 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the six books shortlisted for the esteemed Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, awarded for the previous year’s best fiction and nonfiction books written for adult readers and published in the United States. The two medal winners will be announced by 2020 selection committee chair Donna Seaman at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards (BMAs) event at American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, on Sunday, January 26, 5 -7 pm.

2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction shortlist titles include:


By Maria Popova. Published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Maria Popova brings her zest for facts and passion for biography to this exhilarating and omnivorous inquiry into the lives of geniuses who “bridged the scientific and poetic,” spinning a fine web connecting such barrier-breakers as Margaret Fuller, Ada Lovelace, Frederick Douglass, and Rachel Carson.



The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
By David Treuer. Published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  

David Treuer presents a richly dimensional “counternarrative” to the long-standing depiction of defeated, hopeless Native Americans, documenting, instead, the many ways each assault against Indigenous lives and cultures gave rise to a strong Native resolve not only to survive, but to emerge revitalized.



Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster
By Adam Higginbotham. Published by Simon & Schuster. 

Adam Higginbotham has created a thoroughly researched, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory account of what led up to and what followed the explosion of Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear-power plant on April 26, 1986, focusing on the people involved as they faced shocking circumstances that are having complex and significant global consequences.



Feast Your Eyes
By Myla Goldberg. Published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

In this mesmerizing, brilliantly structured, and deeply insightful novel about a radical photographer and single mother and how her controversial images affect her daughter, Myla Goldberg brings into provocative focus the need to make art, the obstacles confronting women artists, and the transcendence of love. 




Lost Children Archive
By Valeria Luiselli. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. 

Intense and timely, Valeria Luiselli’s novel tracks husband-and-wife audio documentarians as they travel cross-country with their two children and deep into the painful history of the Apache people and the present immigration crisis on the Southwest border, while freshly exploring themes of conquest and remembrance, and powerfully conveying the beauty of the haunted landscape.




The Water Dancer
By Ta-Nehisi Coates. Published by One World, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ first novel is a profoundly imagined and psychologically and socially perceptive drama about the atrocities of slavery sieved through the experiences and convictions of young Hiram Walker, who, as the son of an enslaved woman and the owner of a prominent Virginia estate, possesses a strange and liberating power.