Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like book awards. (Someday, I might write a post about that, but not today.) Therefore, I usually don’t follow book awards except those which I am obligated to know about because of my job. That’s why I pretty much missed the drama last week over the accidental shortlisting of Lauren Myracle’s Shine
for the National Book Award. I do know that if I had heard her name being announced, I would have been pleased. I’ve met her in person and she is a wonderful, charming, generous person, in addition to being a person who writes about and FOR young people in an original, daring way.
Today, the news broke that she had been pressured to withdraw to preserve the “integrity” of the award and the judges’ work. On one hand, I understand that the judges did not select the book, but on the other hand, this is both a worthy book and a real human being that they have humiliated and hurt to preserve the “integrity” of their work. Also, what does it say about their “integrity” that they first said they would consider the book in addition to the other five and then changed their mind and tried to privately shame her into withdrawing from consideration? Did they think that would make things better? Why didn’t they just say last week, “oops, we made a mistake and named the wrong book and forgot to fact-check before making the announcement.” (Let’s not even go into why phones are terrible media for important things.) I think that would have been easier to stomach than this.
My heart aches for Lauren. I can imagine how horrible it feels to have something like this dangled in front of you and then snatched away. I hope that she gets lots of sales out of this and her book gets the attention it deserves. As for the award itself, I will continue to ignore it and read books based on their own merits.