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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Lauren Myracle Shines

 Lauren Myracle has withdrawn her book, Shine,  from the National Book Awards: “In a statement issued by her publisher, Myracle wrote that she “was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work.”  Via the LA Times Arts Beat blog. Also via the LA Times: “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,” it said in a statement. “At her suggestion we will be pleased to make a $5,000 donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in her name.”

The Huffington Post has more as does Publishers Weekly. From PW: “As to how things changed from last Wednesday, when the category expanded to include six titles, to Friday, when the Foundation asked Myracle to withdraw, Augenbraum reiterated that it was a matter of respecting the integrity of the awards process, which “goes to the idea that the judges’ choices need to be respected.”

The Twitter reaction has been fierce, with most comments being made using the #Isupportshine hashtag. Bookshelves of Doomhas some of the Shine tweets at her blog, both with and without the hashtag.

Libba Bray has weighed in, as an author, as Myracle’s friend, and (as she discloses in the post) as the wife of Myracle’s agent, Barry Goldblatt: “What happened after that is worthy of a soap opera called “As the Incompetence Turns.” Over the next few days, a back-and-forth of “we’re keeping it,” “no, we’re not keeping it,” “it’s worthy,” “no, it’s not worthy” was played out in the media and over the Internet in a very public, very hurtful way that did not seem to take into account that at the center of all this was a real live human being, an excellent writer, whose work and reputation were being dragged through the mud as if it were no big thang while the ruffled feathers of injured egos were patted down in a backroom somewhere.”

School Library Journal has its report up on the website. The New York Times also reports on the happenings.

If forced to pick my favorite report on this, I’d select NPR’s blog post: “The solution that Myracle says was chosen, though — asking her to take it upon herself to voluntarily withdraw — doesn’t do much for their PR problem. If they wanted Myracle off the list, they had the option of withdrawing the nomination and saying, “We made an error, we still think it’s a wonderful book and never would have made this mistake if we didn’t consider it an entirely deserving choice, but we have to use the list our judges made, and we apologize.” If they wanted to call it serendipity and essentially overrule their judges, they could have done that, too. But asking her to withdraw — to solve the problem for them — when she had nothing to do with the creation of the problem in the first place seems a bit unfair.”

Peter at Collecting Children’s Books notes that in the past, the NBF wasn’t limited to 5 books.

My take:

People make mistakes. It happens. What matters is not the mistake that is made, but what we do about the mistake.

Based on everything I’ve read, mistake after mistake was made, from the moment that the NBF decided to handle recieving the nominated list over a telephone call, using titles only, up until today’s announcement. What the NBF did about their mistakes just made it worse and worse, creating even bigger headaches. As I said in my original NBA post, this should be a time of excitement for the nominated authors and the judges. Unfortunately, how the mistakes were handled have tarnished it for all involved.

EDITED TO ADD: Lauren Myracle gave an interview to Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair is only my most favorite magazine in the world  (sorry, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly). It’s part of their online content, at Vanity Fair Daily.

EDITED TO ADD: Lauren Myracle has a guest post at the Huffington Post.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Paige Y. says:

    Great post, Liz. I too like the NPR blog post the best, although Libba Bray’s post made me cheer. I don’t have Shine in my middle school library but I read the ARC and loved it. I polled one 8th grade class today about how they think the whole thing should have been handled (I don’t think any of them have read it — it’s really too old for many 8th graders) and they all agreed that the most fair thing would have been for Shine to have been left in contention.

  2. Also lost in the public discussion (although I haven’t followed the Twitter saga, so maybe it’s there) is how Franny has also been wounded, especially since some people have allowed themselves to compare the two books online, which is not necessary or appropriate.

  3. Janet Fox says:

    Really well said, Liz. You are so right when you say it is how the mistake is handled, not the error itself. And this one is appalling. Lauren is a terrific writer who didn’t deserve this turn of events. Nor do any of the authors of the other nominated books, all of which are outstanding.

  4. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Paige, I agree that once the decision was made to leave the book in the list of finalists, and that decision was publicized, it should have stopped there. Leave it in.

    Elizabeth, I know! I’ve read a bit of that and it really, really bothers me. CHIME is a wonderful book, I’m pleased as punch to see it get recognition, and I don’t think it helps anyone to be negative about the nominated titles.

    Janet, what you & Elizabeth said. None of the nominated titles deserve this; and “this” isn’t just the initial error, but the situation the Nat’l Book Awards has created by its very public flip flop.

  5. Diane Mankowski says:

    You did an amazing job of summarizing and linking to important news/news blogs discussion of this debacle. I appreciated you including Libba Bray’s thoughtful and emotional response.
    The drama has reminded me of the recent Emmy show where Charlie Sheen’s announced the Best Actor in a Comedy Series and it was just awkward or the Kanye/Taylor Swift drama.

    All of this year’s nominees and their works are being overshadowed by the drama. I feel bad for Lauren, Franny and all of the nominees that have been caught up in this saga when it should have been a time to celebrate.

    And I also think of the judges who were not responsible for making the announcement to the media. Further, do they really all feel that the integrity of their process was being tainted by keeping Shine on the list? Whether it’s yes or no, they’ll be asked to respond. Who will want to serve next year’s selection committee, I wonder?

  6. Chloe says:

    I actually feel a little sad for CHIME and its author. We may be making her feel guilty over being nominated.

    Though the NBF did handle it wrong. They use the phone to prevent online leaks. That makes sense. Why titles only? SHINE and CHIME may sound similar, but FANNY and LAUREN do not.

  7. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Chloe, some of the anti-CHIME stuff I’ve seen / read really upsets me. I’m stunned they didn’t include authors and publishers in the call. It’s not that unusual to have similar sounding titles in one year.

  8. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Diane, there are a lot of questions and it seems that what the NBF has done just raises more questions. Did you see Myracle’s interview at the Vanity Fair website, link above?

  9. Paige Y. says:

    Lauren also did an interview on All Things Considered tonight — I thought she did a great job!

  10. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Paige, thanks for the heads up on the All Things Considered interview.

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