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The National Book Awards f-up

shineAs you may have heard, the finalists for the National Book Award were announced yesterday, and for the first time, six finalists were announced as contenders for the Award in the category of Young People’s Literature. That is, FIVE titles were announced during the press conference, with a sixth added later. Why? What happened?

Well, according to Harold Augebraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, sponsor of the prestigious National Book Awards, it was a “miscommunication.” More fully:

For security reasons, we do everything by phone, and we don’t write things down when [the judges] transmit the titles to our staff. And someone wrote it down wrong.

I’m sure I’m not the first to call bullshit on this, right? Not even getting into the ridiculousness of a quote about not writing things down that ends with “someone wrote it down wrong,” are you telling me that the phone line was so static-y that someone misheard “Lauren Myracle” instead of “Franny Billingsley”? Because you can pretend that this is just about similarly sounding titles, but you’re effing kidding me that they didn’t say the author’s name too. And Lauren is quoted as having received the call from the NBF days before informing her Shine was a finalist, so this wasn’t something that just happened in the spur of the moment. You’re telling me that in the days since the judges called in the list to the NBF, the NBF called the authors, and then announced the finalists yesterday, no one double-checked the list?

This just stinks. It taints the honor, and I feel bad for all the finalists.

And them to compound the insult to the field of “Young Person’s Literature” — let’s not get into the patronizing tone of that category name, shall we? — Laura Miller of Salon goes and calls the awards themselves irrevelant. Sure, she’s speaking mostly about the finalists in the field of (Adult) Fiction, but then there’s this zinger:

Like the Newbery Medal for children’s literature, awarded by librarians, the NBA has come to indicate a book that somebody else thinks you ought to read, whether you like it or not.

Wait, what? So Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is just something you “ought to read”, with the assumption it’s not going to appeal? I gotta say it again — bullshit.

Feel like joining me in my rant? Spew forth in the comments!

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