'The Underground Railroad,' 'Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,' receive 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/30/2017


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



ATLANTA - The American Library Association selects “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead, published by Doubleday, Penguin Random House LLC, as the winner of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond, published by Crown, Penguin Random House LLC, as the winner of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.  The selections were announced this evening during the RUSA Book and Media Awards Ceremony and Reception that are part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits, sponsored by NoveList, taking place at the Georgia World Congress Center, in Atlanta, Georgia from Jan. 20 – 24.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 and recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the ALA and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to this year’s winners of the highly coveted Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Librarians and library workers are in the unique position of serving as the community’s book reviewers, book club coordinators and discussion leaders, and literary change agents. Today’s selections are examples of how our nation’s librarians share their expertise with adult readers who are looking for the very best in fiction and nonfiction titles. I look forward to finding today’s selections within library and bookstore collections for many years to come.”  

Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” reimagines the Underground Railroad in this powerful tale about smart and resilient Cora, a young third-generation slave who escapes the brutality of a Georgia    cotton plantation and seeks sanctuary throughout the terrorized South.

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond, shares harrowing stories of eight families who find themselves facing home evictions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shining a light on how eviction sets people up to fail.   

“The selection process for the Carnegie Medals of Excellence is one of continually shifting perspectives,” said Medals Chair Donna Seaman. “We each read stacks and stacks of books, formulating our own evaluations. Then, during committee discussions, we see each work of fiction or nonfiction in a new light. The wonder is that excellence always comes into focus.”

2017 nonfiction finalists include “The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice,” by Patricia Bell-Scott, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House LLC; and “Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America,” by Patrick Phillips, published by W. W. Norton.

The 2017 fiction finalists include “Moonglow,” by Michael Chabon, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins; and “Swing Time,” by Zadie Smith, published by Penguin Press, Penguin Random House LLC.

The Carnegie Medal winner announcements take place during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, which now offer all ALA book and media award announcements in the same 24 hours, with the Book & Media Awards (BMA) preceding the ALA Youth Media Award (YMA) announcements. Carnegie Medal winners -each receive $5,000, and the four finalists each receive $1,500. All the finalists will be honored during a celebratory event at ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago.

The Medals are made possible, in part, by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York in recognition of Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world, and are co-sponsored by ALA’s Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). The RUSA Book and Media Awards Ceremony during Midwinter Meeting and Carnegie Awards Ceremony at Annual Conference are made possible with a gift from NoveList.

Annotations and more information on the finalists and the awards can be found at http://www.ala.org/carnegieadult.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation's work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.    

About Booklist

Booklist is the book review magazine of the American Library Association, considered an essential collection development and readers' advisory tool by thousands of librarians for more than 100 years. Booklist Online includes a growing archive of 170,000+  reviews available to subscribers as well as a wealth of free content offering the latest news and views on books and media.

About Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)
The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) is a member community engaged in advancing the practices of connecting people to resources, information services, and collections, building relationships among members from all types of libraries, encouraging openness, innovation, and idea sharing, and promoting excellence in library services and resources.

About ALA
Established in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to provide leadership in the transformation and the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services as well as the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.