Monday, February 12, 2018

Historical fiction award winners from ALA Midwinter 2018

Last night in Denver, many literary awards were announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter conference. Although I didn't attend this year, I was paying attention on social media while tuning in to Olympics figure skating on the TV behind me.

Here are the historical novels that were honored at the Reference and User Services Association's Book and Media Awards ceremony. Links go to the ALA press releases.

2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction: Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, a fast-paced historical novel set in WWII New York.

2018 Reading List, which selects the best in genre fiction for adult readers (descriptions are mine):

In the Historical Fiction category, the winner was Linnea Hartsuyker's The Half-Drowned King, a stellar epic of 9th-century Norway. I wrote a starred review of it for Booklist last year and am excited to see it win. The next book in the trilogy, The Sea Queen, will be out this summer.

On the Historical Fiction short list:

The Confessions of Young Nero, by Margaret George, in which the oft-maligned Roman emperor offers a different view of his early life [see my review];
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a sweeping saga about Koreans in 20th-century Japan [see my review];
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York by Francis Spufford, an adventurous journey through 18th-century New York;
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions: A Kopp Sisters Novel by Amy Stewart, continuing the story of a female deputy sheriff during the WWI years.

And in the Romance category, the winner was Alyssa Cole's An Extraordinary Union, a novel of espionage and forbidden love during the Civil War, with a free black woman as heroine. This is one of many accolades the novel has received.

On the 2018 ALA Notable Books list are several historical novels:

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (also the most recent Walter Scott Prize winner)
The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (the latest Booker Prize winner)

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.

Congrats to the winners and shortlisted authors!


  1. I can see I have some catching up to do! :)

    1. Same here! An Extraordinary Union and Manhattan Beach have been on the TBR for months. Nice thing is I'd already ordered both for the library collection, so they're here and I can get to them whenever.

  2. What a nice list and all the hard work already done. Thank you for the recommendations.

    1. That's why I like award announcements - readers have already put a lot of time and effort into evaluating the books. Glad you liked the compilation!