National Book Flub

Maybe I shouldn’t blog about the National Book Awards kerfuffle since once upon a time I interned for the foundation for one semester. But oh man, I love a good scandal, and I can’t help myself.

For those who don’t know, when the finalists were announced for the Young People’s Literature Award last week, they had to go back and add a sixth nominee because something had been included in error. No one actually said what book wasn’t supposed to be on the list, but it was pretty quickly deduced that Lauren Myracle’s SHINE wasn’t intended as a finalist. So there are six books up for the award instead of five and one author being forced to look like an idiot. “Congratulation on your nomina….PSYCH!”

According to Myracle, at the end of last week, it was decided that she should withdraw from the running in order to protect the integrity of the award. The integrity of an award that couldn’t even get its nominees listed correctly in the official announcement.

Hindsight is 20/20, but let’s imagine how this would have gone under slightly different circumstances: five finalists are named. A sixth finalist is added and we’re told that there was an error: usually only five books are up for the award but the judges selected six this year. Because of the unusual circumstances, one accidentally got left off the official announcement. The sixth book is added, and everyone goes about their days. No authors are publicly acknowledged as NOT finalists thus reducing the potential for humiliating someone through no fault of their own.

Much to her credit, Myracle has handled the situation with aplomb. And the $5K that she would have received as a finalist has been donated to the Matthew Shephard Foundation. AND…free publicity! After reading so much about her book SHINE, which deals with a girl whose best friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, I actually ordered a copy. Maybe others have as well? It sounds like a stunning novel, so I’m now really looking forward to diving in. I mean…as much as you “look forward” to reading really sad-sounding things.

Still, while Myracle could get some new sales out of this, I’m pretty sure she would have traded some sales for not having to be put through the ringer for the past week. Poorly played, former employer. Poorly played.

5 Responses to National Book Flub

  1. This was pretty tacky on the part of the NBA–like you said, they should have just faked that there were six all along. I’m glad Myracle is handling it with much more class, and I hope she’ll be able to see the good in it and that it propels her book to higher heights. I’m sure I would have been devastated in her position, and she will definitely have public sentiment on her side because of it.

  2. Melissa says:

    Not only was it handled poorly, but the apology was not so graceful either. From their web page:

    The National Book Foundation regrets that an error was made in the original announcement of the Finalists for the 2011 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and apologizes for any confusion and hurt it may have caused Lauren Myracle. At her suggestion, we will be pleased to make a $5,000 donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in her name.

    At her suggestion??? Why did they have to say that?

    I added the book to my Amazon cart. Looks like a satisfying read. Thanks for sharing this–I also love a good scandal!

  3. Kaitlyne says:

    I agree that it was in poor taste. I wish they’d just let their be six options. Would it have really hurt anything? My heart goes out to the poor writer in question.

  4. Suma says:

    I look forward to reading the book. Thanks for sharing an interesting read about the book awards.

  5. Clix says:

    I hope that the “at her suggestion” was more to indicate that it isn’t just in her name, but because she selected the charity.

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