Amid allegations of sexual misconduct, author Sherman Alexie has declined the American Library Association’s 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Alexie was announced as the winner of the literary award on February 11, at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, for his book You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir.
In a second development surrounding the memoir, Alexie's publisher, Hachette Book Group, said that they are postponing the paperback edition of the book at Alexie's request. The publisher, added, however, it will keep the rest of Alexie's titles in print.
ALA officials told PW that they were notified of Alexie’s decision via his agent, although it was unclear whether the author was in discussions with ALA, or took the decision on his own, preemptively.
"We acknowledge his decision," reads a statement from the ALA, "and will not award the Carnegie nonfiction medal in 2018.”
The move by Alexie relieves ALA officials from having to make a tough call. Though the Carnegie selection committee had settled on Alexie prior to the misconduct allegations against the author being widely known (the accusations began with anonymous comments posted to a January 3 article on the School Library Journal website), ALA officials were still going to have to decide whether to invite the author to a reception this summer. Carnegie winners typically address librarians and accept their medals at a reception at the ALA Annual Conference, which this year is set for June 21–25 in New Orleans.
Asked about the allegations after the Carnegie announcement last month, Jessica Hughes, executive director of the Reference & User Services Association (RUSA), the ALA division that co-sponsors the Carnegie Medals, told PW in a February 13 message that ALA had “only recently learned of these concerning allegations” against the author," and was "taking the matter seriously" and "looking into it.”
On February 28, Alexie released a statement in which he apologized for his past conduct, while denying some of the allegations against him. “I have made poor decisions,” Alexie conceded in his statement, “and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions."
But the pressure has continued to mount on Alexie. Earlier this month, a number of women went on the record with their accusations against him, and the allegations have become widely reported in the media.
Now in their seventh year, The ALA’s Carnegie Medals have become a coveted literary prize, and the awards reception has become known for great speeches. This year’s fiction winner is Jennifer Egan, who won for her novel Manhattan Beach.
HBG 'Surprised and Troubled by Allegations
In announcing the decision to postpone the paperback edition of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, a HBG spokesperson said the publisher was "surprised and troubled to hear the allegations that have recently emerged [against Alexie], and are concerned about the distress this situation has caused so many."
The statement went on to say that HBG is "encouraged" that Alexie has apologized to those he has hurt and that he has "dedicated himself to becoming a healthier man."