'Lost Children Archive,' 'Midnight in Chernobyl,' receive 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

For Immediate Release
Sun, 01/26/2020


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



PHILADELPHIA - The American Library Association (ALA) selects “Lost Children Archive,” by Valeria Luiselli, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, as the winner of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and "Midnight in Chernobyl," by Adam Higginbotham, published by Simon & Schuster, as the winner of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The selections were announced this evening at the Reference and User Services Association's Book and Media Awards (BMAs) sponsored by NoveList, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The awards, established in 2012, serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the American Library Association and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals and booksellers who work closely with adult readers.

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.

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.

“With a selection committee spanning the country, and an array of intensely probing and highly creative works of fiction and nonfiction,” observed Donna Seaman, committee chair for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence, “this was an exciting, if demanding year for the Carnegie Medals. We hope that librarians will find the two Carnegie winners to be powerful and fruitful titles to recommend and discuss.”

2020 nonfiction finalists include “Figuring,” by Maria Popova, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; “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; and “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster,” by Adam Higginbotham, published by Simon & Schuster. 

The 2020 fiction finalists include “Feast Your Eyes,” by Myla Goldberg, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; “Lost Children Archive,” by Valeria Luiselli, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; and “The Water Dancer,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, published by One World, an imprint of Random House, a division of 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 will each receive $5,000. All the finalists will be honored during a celebratory event at ALA's 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago, IL.  

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).

More information on the finalists and the awards can be found at http://www.ala.org/carnegieadult. Also, book cover artwork is available for download at  http://bit.ly/carnegiemedals2020 .

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 includes a growing archive of 200,000+ 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.