'The Swimmers,' 'An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us' receive 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

For Immediate Release
Sun, 01/29/2023


Raymond Garcia

Communications Specialist

Communications and Marketing Office


NEW ORLEANS — The American Library Association (ALA) selects “The Swimmers,” by Julie Otsuka, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, as the winner of the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and "An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us," by Ed Yong, published by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, as the winner of the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The selections were announced at the Reference and User Services Association's Book and Media Awards (BMAs) event, sponsored by NoveList, on Sunday, January 29, during LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience in New Orleans.

The Carnegie 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 ALA and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals and booksellers who work closely with adult readers.

In an underground pool, a collective “we” reports the comings and goings of the titular swimmers, regulars who have established their schedules, lanes, and paces with comforting familiarity, until a crack in the pool floor causes upheaval in Otsuka’s “The Swimmers.” The water was an essential haven for Alice, whose story aboveground is a polyphonic reveal through her fading memories. She survived imprisonment as a Japanese American during WWII, and now a final erasure looms. Otsuka’s devastating masterpiece is an extraordinary examination of the fragility of human relationships.

In his groundbreaking work of sensory biology and animal behavior, “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us,” Yong examines animals’ unique perceptual abilities, like the platypus with a bill that detects electric fields, the echolocation prowess of bats and dolphins, the ultrafast vision of killer flies, and the outstanding olfaction of elephants. Yong’s scientific curiosity is contagious, and his writing is empathetic, impeccably researched, imaginative, and entertaining.

“A hearty congratulations to our Medalists for achieving such high standards of excellence with their latest books,” said Stephen Sposato, chair of the selection committee for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence. “Julie Otsuka proves herself a master of narrative voice, thrillingly balancing the incredible vitality of community life with the myriad challenges faced by individuals and families within that community. And, standing out even during a recent golden age of nature writing, Ed Yong dazzles with a deeply considered exploration of the many modes of sensory perception that life has evolved to navigate the world, written with exhilarating freshness. My thanks to an outstanding committee who deliberated with humbling sensitivity and thoughtfulness to select these winners.” Sposato added, “I’m as proud of them as I know they are of our winners and all our nominees.”

The 2023 fiction finalists include “Greenland,” by David Santos Donaldson, published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Night of the Living Rez,” by Morgan Talty, published by Tin House; and “The Swimmers,” by Julie Otsuka, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

2023 nonfiction finalists include “Constructing a Nervous System,” by Margo Jefferson, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms around Us,” by Ed Yong, published by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; and “Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage,” by Rachel E. Gross, published by W.W. Norton & Company.

Carnegie Medal winners will each receive $5,000. All the finalists will be honored and the winners will be presented with their medals during a celebratory event at the American Writers Museum in Chicago during ALA's 2023 Annual Conference in June.

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/rusa/awards/carnegie-medals. Also, book cover artwork is available for download at http://www.ala.org/rusa/awards/carnegie-medals/resources

Contact for Julie Otsuka:

Josefine Kals
DirectorKnopf Doubleday Publicity

Contacts for Ed Yong:

Maria Braeckel
Vice President & Director
Random House Publicity

Greg Kubie

Deputy Director

Random House Publicity



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. 

Booklist is a book-review magazine that has been published by the American Library Association for more than 100 years, and is widely viewed as offering the most reliable reviews to help libraries decide what to buy and to help library patrons and students decide what to read, view or listen to. It comprises three magazines, including Booklist Reader, a new publication dedicated to patrons, an extensive website and database, e-newsletters, webinars, and other resources that support librarians in collection development and readers' advisory.

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.


The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.