Monday, January 24, 2022

Historical fiction award winners announced at the 2022 American Library Association LibLearnX conference

Yesterday afternoon, I tuned in to watch the 2022 Book & Media Award announcements from the American Library Association's RUSA Division. The event was broadcast on Facebook and YouTube (which my husband set up so I could watch on our TV). Our tortie cat Cocoa helped, or rather mostly got in the way of the screen.  LibLearnX is the new conference that takes the place of ALA Midwinter.

The graphic below with the book covers of four winners, coincidentally, is highly orange!

There were three major awards in which historical novels received recognition, so without further ado:

The winner for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction was Tom Lin's The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu, about a Chinese orphan turned assassin in the post-Civil War West.

On the Notable Books List are several other works of historical fiction:

Jaime Cortez's Gordo, a short story collection set amid a California migrant workers' camp in the '70s (if you count the era as sufficiently historical);
Lauren Groff's Matrix, imagining the life of Marie de France, a French-born abbess in 12th-century England;
HonorĂ©e Fanonne Jeffers' The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois, an expansive story tracing the heritage of a young woman's African American family;
and Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land, a historical-futuristic literary epic set partly in 15th-century Constantinople.

And for the Reading List, the ALA's annual awards in eight genre fiction categories, the award for Historical Fiction went to The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris, about the unusual friendship between enslaved brothers and a Georgia plantation couple in the post-Civil War years, and a subsequent tragedy.

On the Historical Fiction shortlist are:

Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood (a Greek myth retelling):
Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter (on 20th-century painter Leonora Carrington);
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (suspense before and after Bletchley Park, WWII);
and A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein (spy thriller with Christopher Marlowe).

Congrats to all the honorees!

Cocoa the cat and the ALA Notable Books
Miss Cocoa acting as live awards emcee


  1. Thanks for this post, Sarah. Lots of new books here for my Want To Read list!

    1. Me too - the only one I've read is The Rose Code!

  2. Every time I turn around someone is talking about Groff's "Matrix" - I guess I'll have to read it! I keep wondering if it's at all similar to Nicola Griffith's "Hild" which I thought was wonderful.

    1. Matrix was a finalist for the Carnegie medal, too. I bought a copy for the library but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Hild is another novel I've been meaning to read!

  3. Thanks for posting this. Lots of good titles to add to my TBR list!

    1. Hope you get the chance to read some!