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2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Finalists

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, established in 2012, recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year and serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. Congratulations to the 2021 winners, Deacon King Kong and Fathoms: The World in the Whale!

Playlist Tags: awards: andrew carnegie

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Deacon King Kong

A Novel

By James McBride
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 14 hours 5 minutes

Deacon King Kong

Deacon King Kong is a quintessential New York story. Set in the Brooklyn projects in 1969, a perpetually inebriated deacon called Sportcoat aims a gun at the neighborhood’s main drug dealer in the public plaza and pulls the trigger. Incredibly well-constructed and hilarious at times, McBride’s story entwines a number of storylines that are kickstarted by this central event. The local Italian gangster, the veteran cop, the meddling churchgoers, and the drug pushers all have their own agendas, hopes, and dreams that are affected. And though Sportcoat doesn’t remember his actions and is always under the influence of gut-rot moonshine, I couldn’t help but root for him as I was reading this. His delightful ineptitude and absence of clarity made this book impossible for me to put down. If you’ve never read McBride before, this is a great introduction.”

Novel. image Stuart McCommon, Novel.
Audiobook details

Fathoms

The World in the Whale

By Rebecca Giggs
Narrated by: Shiromi Arserio
Length: 12 hours 5 minutes

Fathoms

“This isn't a scientists memoir about their life studying whales; it's really just a rambling of facts that held me and my friends in fascination as we listened to it on libro.fm during a road trip. WHALES ARE SO INTERESTING! Rebecca lives in Australia and became obsessed with whales when a young humpback washed up too high on her local beach and none of their efforts helped save it. The book evaluates what we know about whales and their relationship to us in really fascinating ways, throughout human history. It also offers some running commentary on how humans currently interact with whales, and how they bring hope to our uncertain future with climate change and anthropocene-caused extinction. ”

Bright Side Bookshop image Amy, Bright Side Bookshop
Audiobook details

A Burning

A novel

By Megha Majumdar
Narrated by: Ulka Simone Mohanty, Vikas Adam, Priya Ayyar, Deepti Gupta, Soneela Nankani & Neil Shah
Length: 7 hours 21 minutes

A Burning

“A Burning tells the all-too-believable story of Javin, a teen-age girl in India who has left school, despite being an excellent student, to get a job and help her struggling family. After a comment against the government on facebook, she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, largely because she is a Muslim. Her story is the central of three comprising the novel. PT Sir is Javin’s physical education teacher who, largely through chance, becomes involved with the leading nationalist political party. And Lovely is a trans woman aspiring to be a film star whom Jivan is tutoring in English. As Jivan’s arrest and trial unfold, the stories of all three characters develop in alternating chapters told from each of their points of view. This novel is not only a compelling tale of each of the characters’ lives and the impact of PT Sir’s and Lovely’s actions on Jivan’s fate, but it is a critical examination of nationalism in India today – and thus a cautionary tale about nationalist extremism anywhere in the world.”

Raven Book Store image Nancy, Raven Book Store
Audiobook details

Homeland Elegies

A Novel

By Ayad Akhtar
Narrated by: Ayad Akhtar
Length: 10 hours 19 minutes

Homeland Elegies

“A masterful blend of memoir and fiction, this is an unforgettable journey through the lives of a Muslim family finding their place in a post-9/11 America. A searing navigation of the loves we try to reconcile — familial, religious, societal — and the definition of home. Written with wisdom, wit, and unsparing honesty, this an important book that you will continue to contemplate for a very long time. Both intimate and epic, this is a must-read.”

East Bay Booksellers image Pam Stirling, East Bay Booksellers
Audiobook details

Memorial Drive

A Daughter's Memoir

By Natasha Trethewey
Narrated by: Natasha Trethewey
Length: 5 hours 9 minutes

Memorial Drive

“When poets write memoirs, I read them. And this shocking coming-of-age reflection on violence, race and motherless daughters evoked a subtle rage that later boiled and then recoiled in me by the end of the book. I am so grateful to witness Threthewey's survival on the page and in her own voice, as read in the audiobook. Unforgettable. ”

Bookworm of Edwards image Nicole, Bookworm of Edwards
Audiobook details