National Book Award screw-up

Hey, kids–

I caught this story today (I’m a little late to the party) and all I could think was “FUBAR.” For those not in the know about what the means, here.

Anyway, the National Book Award is a pretty prestigious deal. So when the nominees were announced last week, the authors and publishers no doubt got way excited and danced around, threw confetti, did fist pumps, and probably called tons of people with the news. However, one of those nominees wasn’t actually a nominee. Whoever put the short lists together got the wrong book, wrong author.

Yeah. The book award people announced Lauren Myracle’s Shine as a short list nominee instead of Franny Billingsley’s Chime. Both books are geared toward young adults.

Soon after the announcement, the book awards people added Chime to the list, stating that there would be six nominees instead of five in that category this year. Okay, seems fair enough, though it was a pretty big screw-up.

Today, however, Myracle has withdrawn her title from the shortlist, citing pressure from the National Book Foundation, which oversees the award. Myracle said that she was asked to withdraw her book in order to “preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work.” She agreed to do so, and she graciously gave props to the other authors nominated in the category.

Guess it was just too hard to have six books instead of five in contention. Although, if I were a conspiracy-monger (and who isn’t every now and again) or deeply, heinously cynical (and again, who isn’t now and again), I might wonder a little bit about that. Myracle’s book is about discrimination against gay youth in schools. Fortunately, I’m not necessarily a conspiracy-monger, and the National Book Foundation did agree to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization geared toward helping LGBTQ youth.

Regardless, the Tweet-o-sphere has a “supportShine” hashtag going, and there are lots of people out there who are not happy about this decision. And yes, it was a pretty big screw-up on the part of the NBF. I’m interested to see how it plays out over the next few days.

In the meantime, happy reading, happy writing!

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