Sherman Alexie and Jennifer Egan are already having a good year.
The authors both took home 2018 Carnegie Medals awarded by the American Library Association (ALA). Alexie received the nonfiction honor for his memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, while Manhattan Beach earned Jennifer Egan the fiction prize. The medals are given in recognition of recent “literary excellence” and are, according to the ALA, intended to "serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material." Alexie and Egan were certainly in "quality" company—the latest National Book Award winner, Jesmyn Ward, and the Man Booker Prize winner, Georgie Saunders, were among the other finalists.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me was an instant bestseller when it released in June of last year. With unflinching honesty, Alexie writes of his unique but troubled childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation— focusing on the complicated relationship between himself and his alcoholic mother. Though not always a flattering portrait, the book is ultimately a moving tribute to the woman who raised him, and to the indelible connection between mothers and their sons.
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It's a slight departure from Alexie's usual work, which includes the National Book Award-winning, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning War Dances. Since his prose debut in 1993, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Alexie has used his writing as a channel for tackling widespread misconceptions about his fellow Native Americans.
Like Alexie’s memoir, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach also explores parent-child relationships and follows a girl’s lifelong quest to understand her father. It begins in 1930s New York when Anna Kerrigan, barely twelve, becomes suspicious of her father’s gangster friend, Dexter Styles. Years later, after Anna has become the US Navy’s first female diver, she encounters Styles again—and finally solves the riddle of her father’s life. Egan’s other books include the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad, and The Keep, a literary psychological thriller.
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