Magazine article American Libraries

Reading the Carnegie Longlist

Magazine article American Libraries

Reading the Carnegie Longlist

Article excerpt

Helping launch the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction was one of the most exciting things I've ever done in my many years at Booklist. We had very little time to get the awards off the ground last year. The official announcement that Booklist, RUSA, and Carnegie Corporation of New York would be partnering on an adult-book award on the same scale as the Newbery and Caldecott awards came in January 2012, and a mere six months later, the first winners were announced at ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim by committee chair Nancy Pearl.

This year the pace isn't quite so frenetic, which will give us time to promote not only the winners (one in fiction and one in nonfiction) and the finalists (three in each of the two categories), but also books featured on what we're calling the longlist: 50 selections from Booklist's Editors' Choice list and RUSA's Notable Books list, from which the finalists and winners will be drawn. Not being a member of the selection committee, I don't need to read these 50 books on a deadline, but I'm going to try to read them anyway. And I think you should, too, because this longlist provides an ideal snapshot of a year in publishing.

Alas, I'm off to a slow start. As of mid-February, when I'm writing this column, I've read only three of the 50: Ivan Doig's The Bartender's Tale and Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues in fiction, and Robert Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson in nonfiction. If this trio--Doig's eloquent coming-of-age tale about growing up as the son of a bartender in mid-20th-century Montana; Edugyan's incredibly rich story of music, politics, and personal betrayal in Weimar Germany; and Caro's magisterial, near-Shakespearean account of LBJ's life between 1960 and his assumption of the presidency after JFK's assassination--is any indication of the quality of the remaining 47 titles (and I'm sure it is), I'm looking forward to some marvelous reading. …

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