The first-ever Andrew Carnegie Awards for Excellence in Literature were announced in a ceremony Sunday night at the American Library Assn. conference in Anaheim. Awards were given in two categories, fiction and nonfiction. The biography "Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman" by Robert K. Massie took the nonfiction prize; Anne Enright's novel "The Forgotten Waltz" won in fiction.
Up to now, the American Library Assn.'s prizes have focused on books for children and young adults; the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals are among the organization's awards. For the inaugural Carnegie Awards, librarians and library professionals chose the winners, working in consultation with adult readers.
"Catherine the Great" was lauded by the American Library Assn. as "A compulsively readable biography of the fascinating woman who, through a combination of luck, personality, and a fine mind, rose from her birth as a minor German princess to become the Empress of all the Russias." Massie has become something of an imperial biographer; he is the author of "Nicholas and Alexandra" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Peter the Great."
"The vicissitudes of extramarital love and the obstructions to its smooth flow—including spouses, children, and the necessary secrecy surrounding an affair—are charted in sharp yet supple prose," the organization writes of "The Forgotten Waltz" by Anne Enright. In our review Joy Press explains, "Gina is not so much an unreliable narrator as someone obsessed with her own unreliability. Dissecting her love affair with married man Sean Vallely, she constantly doubles back on her own thoughts and memories, gamely trying to pinpoint the moment when her conventional middle-class life — complete with husband and mortgage — dissolved into something darker and more complicated."
The two books were selected from short lists of finalists. They're after the jump.