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Great Reads: Carnegie Medals 2024 Fiction Longlist

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Great Reads: Carnegie Medals 2024 Fiction Longlist

carnegie medals fiction longlist 2024

Are you looking for some quality fiction and nonfiction to hunker down with as the weather outside gets chillier?  How about choosing from books vetted by and selected by library professionals?

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. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the American Library Association and reflect the expert judgment and insight of a seven-member selection committee of library professionals who work closely with adult readers. 

Forty-five books (21 fiction, 24 nonfiction) have been selected for the longlist for the 2024 Medals. The six-title shortlist—three each for the fiction and nonfiction medals—will be chosen from longlist titles and announced on November 14, 2023. The two medal winners will be announced Saturday, January 20th, 2024 at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.  Carnegie Medal winners each receive $5,000.

Here are some longlisted fiction titles available in the Livingston Library’s collection to add to your fall reading list.  Nonfiction titles will be covered in a separate post.

bandit queens

The Bandit Queens: A Novel by Parini Shroff

Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die. It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control ( ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry. Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal. And not all of them are asking nicely. With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built—but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village. A novel filled with clever criminals, second chances, and wry and witty women.

The Berry Pickers : A Novel by Amanda Peters

Growing up as the only child of affluent and overprotective parents, Norma, troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination, searches for the truth, leading her to the blueberry fields of Maine, where a family secret is finally revealed

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

A novel about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own. Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences. Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a “new and necessary American voice.

Dear Chrysanthemums: a Novel In Stories by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

A startling and vivid debut novel in stories from acclaimed poet and translator Sze-Lorrain featuring deeply compelling Asian women who reckon with the past, violence, and exile, set in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Paris, and New York. “Cooking for Madame Chiang,” 1946: Two cooks work for Madame Chiang Kai-shek and prepare a foreign dish craved by their mistress, which becomes a political weapon and leads to their tragic end. “Death at the Wukang Mansion,” 1966: Punished for her extramarital affair, a dancer is transferred to Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution and assigned to an ominous apartment in a building whose other residents often depart in coffins. “The White Piano,” 1996: A budding pianist from New York City settles down in Paris and is assaulted when a mysterious piano arrives from Singapore. “The Invisible Window,” 2016: After their exile following the Tiananmen Square massacre, three women gather in a French cathedral to renew their friendship and reunite in their grief and faith.

fat time

Fat Time and Other Stories by Jefferey Renard Allen

Jimi Hendrix, Francis Bacon, the boxer Jack Johnson, Miles Davis, and a space-age Muhammad Ali find themselves in the otherworldly hands of Jeffery Renard Allen, reimagined and transformed to bring us news of America in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Along with them are characters of Allen’s two teenagers in an unnamed big city who stumble through a down-low relationship; an African preacher visits a Christian religious retreat to speak on the evils of fornication in an Italian villa imported to America by Abraham Lincoln; and an albino revolutionary who struggles with leading his people into conflict. The two strands in this brilliant story collection– speculative history and tender, painful depictions of Black life in urban America are joined by African notions of circular time in which past, present, and future exist all at once. Here the natural and supernatural, the sacred and the profane, the real and fantastical, destruction and creation are held in delicate and tense balance. 

Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go : Stories by Cleo Qian

The electric, unsettling, and often surreal stories in this collection explore the alienated, technology-mediated lives of restless Asian and Asian American women today. A woman escapes into dating simulations to forget her best friend’s abandonment; a teenager begins to see menacing omens on others’ bodies after her double eyelid surgery; reunited schoolmates are drawn into the Japanese mountains to participate in an uncanny social experiment; a supernatural karaoke machine becomes a K-pop star’s channel for redemption. In every story, characters refuse dutiful, docile stereotypes. They are ready to explode, to question conventions. Their compulsions tangle with unrequited longing and queer desire in their search for something ineffable across cities, countries, and virtual worlds. 

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

In the years before the Civil War, Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, struggles through the miles-long march, seeks comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother, opening herself to a world beyond this world.

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling

This novel offers a revisionist history of Sacajewea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who, while still a teenager, provided critical assistance to the Lewis and Clark expedition in their exploration of the Louisiana Territory. Drawing on the limited historical information available, the author—who’s Bitterroot Salish—conjures a nuanced and compelling rendition of her title character, who recounts her experiences in a distinctive mode of English. What we discover here is a startlingly new perspective on watershed historical events, particularly as they relate to the contributions of Native Americans in both aiding and resisting Western expansion across the continent in the early 19th century. The journal entries gradually build a convincing imaginative world through finely observed descriptions of daily life as well as philosophical reflections on the significance of the cultural transformations underway. 

maniac

The Maniac by Benjamin Labatut

A story centered around one of the great geniuses of the modern age, the Hungarian polymath John von Neumann, tracing the uncanny circuit of his mind deep into our own time’s most haunting dilemmas.

Pomegranate : A Novel by Helen Elaine Lee

The touching story of a queer Black recovering opioid addict recently out of prison, who fights to stay clean and regain custody of her two children while her old life beckons.

Prophet by Helen Macdonald

Adam Rubenstein and Sunil Rao have been reluctant partners since their Uzbekistan days. Adam is a seemingly unflappable American intelligence officer and Rao is an ex-MI6 agent, an addict and rudderless pleasure hound, with the uncanny ability to discern the truth of things, about everyone and everything other than Adam. When an American diner turns up in a foggy field in the UK after a mysterious death, Adam and Rao are called in to investigate. The pair begins to uncover how and why people’s fondest memories are being weaponized against them by a spooky, ever-shifting substance called Prophet.

Straw Dogs of the Universe : A Novel by Chun Ye

A sweeping historical novel of the American West from the little-seen perspective of those who helped to build it, Straw Dogs of the Universe traces the story of one Chinese father and his young daughter, desperate to find him against all odds. After her village is devastated by famine, 10-year-old Sixiang is sold to a human trafficker for a bag of rice and six silver coins. Her mother is reluctant to let her go, but the promise of a better life for her beloved daughter ultimately sways her. Arriving in America with the profits from her sale and a single photograph of Guifeng, her absent father, Sixiang journeys across an unfamiliar American landscape in the hopes of reuniting her family. As she makes her way through an unforgiving new world, her father, a railroad worker in California, finds his attempts to build a life for himself both upended and defined by a long-lost love and the seemingly inescapable violence of the American West.

two sherpas

Two Sherpas by Sebastian Martinez Daniell; translated by Jennifer Croft

An Englishman has fallen from a ridge in Nepal. His guides kneel at the edge, exchanging the odd word, waiting for him to move. They must make a decision to descend. In those minutes, Two Sherpas expands dizzyingly to encompass Mount Everest’s place in the imagination of imperialists, Nazis and others; ambition, exploration and exploitation; a mysterious encounter in a beach resort in a distant land; a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and so much more. Perched on that rocky ledge, each breath is crystalline, and the whole world is visible from here.

Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin

A boldly imagined debut novel about three Vietnamese siblings who seek refuge in the UK, expanding into a luminous meditation on ancestry and love. After the last American troops leave Vietnam, siblings Anh, Thanh, and Minh begin a perilous journey to Hong Kong with the promise that their parents and younger siblings will soon follow. But when tragedy strikes, the three children are left orphaned, and sixteen-year-old Anh becomes the caretaker for her two younger brothers overnight. In the years that follow, Anh and her brothers resettle in the UK and confront their new identities as refugees, first in overcrowded camps and resettlement centers and then, later, in a modernizing London plagued by social inequality and raging anti-immigrant sentiment. Anh works in a clothing factory to pay their bills. Minh loiters about with fellow unemployed high school dropouts. Thanh, the youngest, plays soccer with his British friends after class. As they mature, each sibling reckons with survivor’s guilt, unmoored by their parents’ absence. With every choice they make, their paths diverge further, until it’s unclear if love alone can keep them together. Told through lyrical narrative threads, historical research, voices from lost family, and notes by an unnamed narrator determined to chart their fate, this novel captures the lives of a family marked by war and loss yet relentless in the pursuit of a better future. 

The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang

Lin Chong is an expert arms instructor, training the Emperor’s soldiers in sword and truncheon, battle axe and spear, lance and crossbow. Unlike bolder friends who flirt with challenging the unequal hierarchies and values of Imperial society, she believes in keeping her head down and doing her job. Until a powerful man with a vendetta rips that carefully-built life away. Disgraced, tattooed as a criminal, and on the run from an Imperial Marshall who will stop at nothing to see her dead, Lin Chong is recruited by the Bandits of Liangshan. Mountain outlaws on the margins of society, the Liangshan Bandits proclaim a belief in justice–for women, for the downtrodden, for progressive thinkers a corrupt Empire would imprison or destroy. They’re also murderers, thieves, smugglers, and cutthroats. Apart, they love like demons and fight like tigers. Together, they could bring down an empire.

Witness : Stories by Jamel Brinkley

Brinkley’s remarkable short-story collection explores identity, connection, and lives in transition. Set in New York City’s changing neighborhoods, many of the ten stories deal with how the traumatic effects of heartache can expose internal vulnerabilities.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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