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.