Monday, January 22, 2024

Historical fiction award winners announced at the 2024 ALA LibLearnX conference

Lady Tan's Circle of Women book cover
The 2024 Book and Media Award announcements from the American Library Association's LibLearnX conference in Baltimore were broadcast over the weekend, and here are the historical novels that took home prizes. 

On the Reading List, the ALA's annual awards in eight genre fiction categories, the award for Historical Fiction award went to Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See, focusing on a female doctor navigating her career and an arranged marriage in 15th-century China.

On the Historical Fiction shortlist are:

The Bookbinder by Pip Williams - two young women in WWI-Oxford who work in the university press's bindery find their lives transformed by war.
Essex Dogs by Dan Jones - high-octane adventure during the Hundred Years' War.
Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls - a young woman reclaims her place in the family business in Prohibition-era Virginia.
Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall - the multi-period story of three women and the battle for reproductive choice.

The winner in Mystery was A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao, a police procedural set in 1914 Fiji and focusing on an indentured servant who went missing.

On the Notable Books List are these four historical novels:

In Memoriam by Alice Winn - a love story between two British men who fight overseas in WWI.
North Woods by Daniel Mason - an epic literary tale of all the inhabitants of a small corner of Massachusetts woods over multiple centuries.
The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride - a mystery in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1972 reveals the longtime interconnections between the town's Black and Jewish residents.
The Reformatory by Tananarive Due - historical horrors at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

On the Listen List for excellence in audiobook narration:

The Adventures of Amina al Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty, narrated by Lameece Issaq and Amin El Gamal - a historical fantasy pirate adventure set in the 12th century.
The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, narrated by Dominic Hoffman.

James McBride's The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store also won the 2024 Sophie Brody Medal, which is given for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature.

Congratulations to all the winners!


  1. Katharine O4:52 AM

    An interesting list, some of those books have been getting so much press! I'm a Lisa See fan although looking at my GR account I should get back to her. Thanks for the info! (historical fantasy pirate adventure!!)

    1. Yes, for just one example - Heaven and Earth Grocery Store is on so many best-of lists! The Amina Al-Sarafi book intrigues me. It is so many things, and it has a female protagonist in an interesting setting. Even though pirate adventures aren't what I'd normally go for.