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Bonus Poll! What Do You Think of the National Book Award Controversy?

The book world is abuzz over the latest news in the saga of the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Last week, the National Book Foundation announced six finalists for the Young People’s Literature National Book Award, confirming that Lauren Myracle’s Shine was nominated in error, but that it would remain in contention. This week, Myracle and her publisher issued a statement saying that the NBF asked her to resign to “preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work.” (You can read more on the controversy at Publishers’ Weekly.) What do you think of the controversy?

Vote in our poll over on the right and feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section.

You can see detailed results for all of our polls in the polls archive.

13 Comments

  1. Shmuel Shmuel

    None of the above, really.

    The decent thing for the National Book Foundation to have done, as soon as they realized their error, would have been to (a) correct the record, and (b) grovel in contrition. Their statement could and should have been something like this:

    “Earlier this morning, we incorrectly announced that ‘Shine,’ by Lauren Myracle, had been nominated in the Young People Literature category of the National Book Awards. This was an error, caused by a faulty phone connection and insufficiently rigorous procedures for verifying the names of the nominees. The actual fifth book nominated was ‘Chime,’ by Franny Billingsley. We are mortified at having made such a mistake, and we will be taking steps to ensure that it never happens again.

    “We realize and regret that that our erroreous announcement and its retraction will cause pain to author Lauren Myracle. ‘Shine’ is a worthy, well-written book, which deals with important issues unflichingly. It had been under serious consideration, and it is a book to be proud of. Unfortunately, our judges are confined to selecting only five books, and it didn’t make the final cut. While admitting this will make us look incompetent, leaving this mistake uncorrected would be unfair to Billingsley, and indeed to the judges.

    “Once again, we apologize profusely.”

    Everyone makes mistakes, yes. What matters is what one does once one realizes one has done so. Keeping the book on as a sixth nominee and then asking the victim to clean up your mess for you by withdrawing is the opposite of taking responsibility for one’s actions. The National Book Foundation took a bad situation and escalated it to something much worse.

    • I completely agree with this. My only addition would be for the National Book Foundation to have had the idea themselves to donate $ to the Matthew Shepard Foundation (or “charity of her choice”) rather than Lauren having to suggest it.

    • Laura Laura

      Very well written Shmuel and I couldn’t agree more.

  2. I don’t think any of the choices above are good, nor is what NBF did the way I think it should have been handled.

    Don’t say Shine is on the list, keep it there for a week, then make the author resign rather than admitting the mistake. Since they said the book was in consideration but not part of the top 5, were I on the board my vote would have been to keep it and have the shortlist be 6 books.

    But if they weren’t going to do that, the way they should have handled it was immediately removing the book and admitting the error. I’m sure there are some people who think the publicity is good, but I fear the audience who tends to try banning books that deal with LGBTQ issues will see this as a plus. After all, if the NBF announced the book as nominated and then asked the author to withdraw from consideration the book must be bad (not that that’s what I think, but it’s what I see the right-wing thinking). Giving money to the Matthew Sheppard foundation is a good start, but I also think the NBF needs to step up and have an open, very public discussion about the book and why it was up for consideration to the extent that such a mistake could happen.

  3. Rhonda Helms Rhonda Helms

    What Shmuel said.

  4. Jill Jill

    I think that the NBF should make ‘Shine’ a sixth nominee. They should, however, admit their mistake and profusely apologize to both authors. They shouldn’t have made this mistake in the first place, but since it happened, the fair way is to make six books finalists. They should not have asked Lauren Myracle to resign, as it isn’t fair to her.

  5. Kaethe Kaethe

    Better to have had six finalists than to have publicly shamed Lauren Myracle (who gets my praise for taking it all so well). While the check to the foundation is a nice touch, it doesn’t make things up to Billingsley or Myracle. I think the NBF took a bad situation and made it egregious.

  6. TracyH TracyH

    They never should have admitted an error. They should have just said that this year, there were six nominees. Period. What a bunch of pompous idiots.

  7. […] You’ve also made your voices heard about what happened this month with the National Book Foundation mistakenly including Lauren Myracle’s Shine in their list of finalists for the National Book Award and then asking her to withdraw: 90% of you thought they should have stayed with the six nominees. We’ll leave voting open in that poll for a while longer, and you can always join in the conversation in the comments. […]

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