Lauren Myracle withdraws from National Book Award finalists
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Author Lauren Myracle was asked to withdraw her book ‘Shine’ from the National Book Award finalist list for young people’s literature. 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.’
Myracle complied with the request. Her book ‘Shine’ was among the first five finalists announced live before an audience and radio broadcast in Oregon on Oct. 12; later that day, a sixth book, ‘Chime’ by Franny Billingsley, was added to the list.
In explaining the addition of ‘Chime,’ National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum said, ‘We made a mistake, there was a miscommunication.’ That ‘Chime’ and ‘Shine’ sound similar was not explicitly stated but may have been a factor.
At the time, Augenbraum added, ‘We could have taken one of the books away to keep it five, but we decided that it was better to add a sixth one as an exception, because they’re all good books.’
That perspective has clearly been revised. ‘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.’
That’s because of the book’s subject matter, explained in our review:
Myracle’s latest, ‘Shine,’ continues to trade in the forbidden. It just does so in literary prose, following a 16-year-old girl as she attempts to solve an antigay hate crime in a small North Carolina town where methamphetamine use is rampant and illiteracy and unemployment rates run even higher. ‘Shine’ is dramatic in both content and presentation. Its end pages are jet black, a not-so-subliminal indication of the novel’s dark subject matter. Before Chapter 1 has even begun, that subject is revealed with a newspaper clipping. Seventeen-year-old Patrick Truman has been beaten and bound to a guardrail outside a convenience store with an antigay slur written in blood across his chest. Patrick was well known in his hometown of 743 residents for being ‘light in his loafers’ or ‘swishy,’ as some of the townspeople called him. The question at the center of ‘Shine’ is, who would beat him bloody with a baseball bat and leave him for dead?
Myracle’s books, which include ‘ttyl’ and ‘ttfn,’ have often appeared on the most-challenged and most-banned lists released by the American Library Assn. ‘I was over the moon last week after receiving the call telling me that ‘Shine’ was a finalist for the award,’ Myracle said in her statement.
Publisher Susan Van Metre added, ‘We are so proud of ‘Shine,’ a beautiful and important book, and of Lauren, not least for her grace in such a difficult week.’
-- Carolyn Kellogg