Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction

Congratulations to the 2020 Winners!

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Virtual Gals, Thursday, July 9th 3:00 – 4:00 Central, pictured: Natasha Trethewey, Adam Higginbotham, Valeria Luiselli

Celebrate the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence at an exciting virtual gala on Thursday, July 9, sponsored by NoveList. You'll hear acceptance speeches from the winning authors and keynote Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winner and 19th U.S. Poet Laureate. This one-hour online celebration is free to attend, but registration is required. Learn more

Fiction Winner

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

Book cover: Lost Children ArchiveIntense 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.

Nonfiction Winner

Adam Higginbotham
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
Simon & Schuster

Book cover: Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear DisasterAdam 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.


About the Awards

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award. For more information on award seals, please visit the ALA store

A longlist comprised of no more than 50 titles is released in September.  Six finalists, three fiction and three nonfiction, are announced in October.  The winners are announced at the RUSA Book and Media Awards Ceremony at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting.

Who Selects the Winners

The shortlisted authors and eventual winners reflect the expertise of a eight-member selection committee of library professionals from across the country who work closely with adult readers. The annually appointed selection committee includes a chair, one member of the American Booksellers Association, three Booklist editors or contributors, and three former members of RUSA CODES Notable Books Council.

The 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence selection committee, announced on March 7, 2019, includes the following experts who work closely with adult readers:

  • Donna Seaman, 2020 Chair, is Booklist’s Adult Books Editor and is the author of Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists. Donna has also served as a juror for the National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
  • Hilary Albert is Head of Reference at Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac, New York.
  • Barbara Bibel is a reference librarian and Booklist reviewer from Berkeley, California.
  • Carol Haggas serves was a readers’ services advisor for the St. Charles Public Library, St. Charles, Illinois, and is a Booklist reviewer.
  • Stacey J. Hayman is a Booklist reviewer and a librarian at Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, Ohio.
  • Sarah Goddin is Manager of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Patrick J. Wall is Library Director at University City Public Library in University City, Missouri.

Supporting the Awards

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s centennial and in recognition of Andrew Carnegie's deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world.

ALA Co-sponsors

Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) cosponsor the awards. Booklist also sponsors the Michael L. Printz Award ,  Odyssey Award and Alex Awards. RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) administers Notable Books, The Reading List, The Listen List and the Sophie Brody Award.