Lauren Myracle has withdrawn her book, Shine, from the National Book Awards: “In a statement issued by her publisher, Myracle wrote that she “was asked to withdraw by the National Book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.”
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.
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.