Sunday, January 22, 2017

Historical fiction award winners from ALA Midwinter 2017

Earlier this evening, a number of literary awards were announced at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.  I wasn't in attendance this time, but details on the winners and shortlisted titles are posted at the ALA website (and committee members have been announcing the news on Facebook and Twitter).

Here are the historical novels that received the honors.  Links go to the ALA press releases.

2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction:  The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, which imagines an enslaved woman's flight towards freedom.  I reviewed this novel here last year; it also won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for historical fiction.

2017 Reading List, which selects the best in genre fiction for adult readers (descriptions are mine):

In the Historical Fiction category, the winner was Graham Moore's The Last Days of Night, a historical thriller about the rivalry between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison in 1888.

On the Historical Fiction short list:
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a family saga about slavery and freedom, set in Ghana and America over the last few centuries.
- News of the World by Paulette Jiles, a western set in the post-Civil War period.
- The Risen: A Novel of Spartacus by David Anthony Durham, about the slave revolt led by Spartacus against ancient Rome.
- To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, a novel of adventure and love set in 1885, during the exploration of Alaska.

In the Mystery category, the winner was Thomas Mullen's Darktown, a police procedural featuring two African-American policemen in 1948 Atlanta fighting racism as they investigate a black woman's murder.

And in the Romance category, the winner was Beverly Jenkins' Forbidden, a love story set in the post-Civil War West between a strong-minded African-American woman and a man passing as White.

On the 2017 ALA Notable Books list are several historical novels:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao, stories set during the partition of India in 1947

Novels on the Notable Books list are literary fiction, while the Reading List covers genre fiction. Since novels in the historical fiction genre can also be literary, there is some overlap.

More award announcements may be forthcoming, and if so, I'll add them to this post. Congratulations to the winners and shortlisted authors!


  1. So pleased to hear about Underground Railroad. A very fine novel. I haven't read any of the others, I'm afraid.

    1. It's notable that Underground Railroad has won both popular and critical awards. I don't think that happens very often.

  2. I read The Last Days of Night quite recently and was surprised at how much I learned. It was fiction, but based on true events that I never really knew about. Great read!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

    1. I'm not familiar with the historical events behind the story, either. It sounds good!

    2. My dad grew up in Pittsburgh and enjoys history, particularly Pittsburgh history about mining and other "geeky" things like Westinghouse! I enjoy historical novels (and Pittsburgh history) and was planning to read this book so I got him to read it and it's on the top of my TBR pile. I can't wait until I finish it so we can talk about the book!

    3. I'll move it up in the TBR pile also!

      Coincidentally I just finished another book set partly in Pittsburgh, though it's mostly about two reporters from the city researching the Johnstown Flood of 1889 (Kathleen George's The Johnstown Girls).