Amanda Peters has won the Carnegie Medal for Excellence 2024 for her novel The Berry Pickers. She is the first Canadian to win a prize in either category since the awards began in 2012.
The American Library Association awards one fiction and one nonfiction prize. The winners will receive honours at the association’s annual conference and a cash prize of $5,000 US ($6,740.13 Cdn). These awards are made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.
In The Berry Pickers, a four-year-old girl from a Mi’kmaq family goes missing in Maine’s blueberry fields in the 1960s. Nearly 50 years later, Norma, a young girl from an affluent family is determined to find out what her parents aren’t telling her. Little by little, the two families’ interconnected secrets unravel.
“Mi’kmaq families, Indigenous families are the same as other families,” Peters told CBC’s The Next Chapter. “They grieve the same as other families, they feel the same way as other families. Family is, in the end, what you have.”
The Berry Pickers was also a finalist for the 2023 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was named one of CBC Books’ best fiction books of the year.
Peters is a member of Glooscap First Nation and currently living in Annapolis Valley, N.S. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, the Alaska Quarterly Review and The Dalhousie Review. She was also the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose and a participant in the 2021 Writers’ Trust Rising Stars program.
The Next Chapter3:10Amanda Peters on The Berry Pickers
“Amanda Peters’ stunning prose and evocative narrative enraptured us with the grief and longing of her characters,” Aryssa Damron, chair of the awards’ selection committee, said in a statement.
The Carnegie Medal nonfiction winner is Roxanna Asgarian for We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America World. The book is an investigation into the Hart family murder-suicide from 2018, when a couple drove off a cliff with their six adopted children in the back.
Finalists for the Carnegie Award’s fiction prize included fellow Canadians Christina Wong and Daniel Innes for Dennison Avenue, which will be championed by Naheed Nenshi on Canada Reads 2024.