A longlist of 46 books has been selected for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction and can be seen here. The shortlist of six titles (three in fiction and three in nonfiction) will be announced November 17. The two winners will be announced February 4.
Selection committee chair Bill Kelly, adult programming manager for Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library, commented: "This was unquestionably a challenging year for all the obvious reasons. There were times one didn't feel especially like reading. The news was bleak; the outcomes were dire. And yet, in the end, reading proved to be just the balm one needs to sustain us, to give hope and strength and resilience in the face of an oppressively uncertain future. We know that reading has shown to increase empathy, to reduce stress, and even lower blood pressure. More importantly, however, we discovered that the diversity of voices with which we were able to so deeply engage, the breadth of fascinating subject matter in which we were able to so fully immerse ourselves proved to be the greatest testament to the human spirit. In that sense, 2020 was a great year to be a reader of outstanding books and the Carnegie committee sincerely hopes that others will find the same power we did in the books on this year's longlist."
The Forward Arts Foundation announced that Caroline Bird's The Air Year won the £10,000 (about $13,085) Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection, while RENDANG by Will Harris took the £5,000 (about $6,545) Felix Dennis Prize for debut collection and Malika Booker's "The Little Miracles" topped the £1,000 (about $1,310) best single poem category.
"We are thrilled to celebrate three winning poets whose finely crafted work has the protean power to change as it meets new readers," said chair of judges Alexandra Harris, calling the poems in The Air Year "trapeze ropes made with words, swinging us up and out into the unknown, from dazzle into darkness and back again. With hurtling fluency and ethereal weightlessness, they give chase to mysteries of love and hurt. Turning, tumbling, vaulting, The Air Year performs a surrealist aerial dance. Every time you look, its shape has shifted, its extravagance, puzzlement and passion are startlingly reconfigured."
Harris praised RENDANG for the "marvelous generosity" in which its ideas "meet, leap, and circle each other." The poet, she said, is "fascinated by how we read and mis-read the world around us, how we send out signals to each other, how we dance and flail as we try to communicate across chasms."