Once upon a time it was a great honor to have your book named as a finalist for the National Book Award. Right now, I’m sure more than a few authors are grateful that they weren’t caught in the vortex of embarrassment the National Book Foundation found itself in this week.
If you haven’t heard about the confusion surrounding nominations for SHINE by Lauren Myracle and CHIME by Franny Billingsley, you can read about it in Publisher’s Weekly, Vanity Fair or the Los Angeles Times. When I received the email announcement from the NBF, it included both books. Yes, it seemed odd to have two YA books with similar titles. Yes, I wondered why the category had six nominees instead of the usual five. Yesterday, under pressure from the NBF, Lauren Myracle bowed out of the nomination, after it was revealed that her book had been put forward by mistake.
I don’t know about you, but if it was me, I’d have been devastated. To have the thrill of being nominated followed soon after by the knowledge that your book wasn’t supposed to be there? To have the world publicly debating whether your book deserved the honor? We writers are already neurotic. What a nightmare to have to go through.
Lauren Myracle is used to being in the midst of a firestorm. Her books have been regularly banned and I’m sure she’s used to a certain degree of public scrutiny. But no one should have had to endure the week she’s been through. Despite her disappointment, she handled herself with grace, encouraging the NBF to donate to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
To be perfectly honest, this book was not on my radar. I’d seen her earlier novels, ttyl and the others in that series. But after hearing about the whole debacle over the past week, I’m more than curious about SHINE. And I doubt that I’m the only one. All the publicity surrounding the Foundation’s mistake has pushed this book to the forefront, in a way that simply being nominated for the award could not have done.
Maybe in the end, Lauren Myracle will have the last laugh, showing the world that not only is her book deserving of the title, so is she.