NYPL’s 2017 Book Award Finalists Wrote About Gun Deaths, Pandemics, War Zones, Dark Money and Refugees

The Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence finalists are in

As the name of the award implies, the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism is dedicated to honoring notable works of non-fiction written by journalists. The winner among the just-announced five finalists, to be revealed May 22, will join a group that includes George Packer, Ellen Schultz, David Finkel, Katherine Boo, Dan Fagin and Anand Giridharadas.

While the NYPL celebrates the award’s 30th year, this year’s statement from NYPL president Tony Marx about the award seems to speak to to this particular moment of history, particularly in the political sense. “In a fractured world where many no longer trust facts, the goal of the Library’s Bernstein Award–to honor in-depth, investigative journalism–is arguably more important than ever,” he says. “For 30 years the award has supported open and free access to information, and I applaud this year’s finalists. I look forward to the next 30 years of celebrating the important role journalism plays in our democracy.”

Taken in total, the topics covered by this year’s finalists provide a cause-and-effect snapshot of our time. They are:

  • Janine di Giovanni’s The Morning They Came for Us, about the civil war in Syria, as experienced through the people who have been living through it.
  • Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, about the ways in which billionaires are influencing the political system through an infusion of money in politics.
  • Charlotte McDonald-Gibson’s Cast Away, about refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa for Europe.
  • Sonia Shah’s Pandemic, about the path diseases like cholera and ebola take around the world and their potential to transform into pandemics.
  • Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America, about a single day of gun deaths in America, and the lives of the children and teenagers lost to that violence.