Lauren Myracle Withdraws From National Book Awards As The Debacle Continues
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It's one embarrassment after another for this year's National Book Awards.
First, they name the wrong book in the shortlist for the Young People's Literature award, announcing "Shine" by Lauren Myracle as a nominee instead of "Chime" by Franny Billingsley.
Soon after the announcement, they put out a statement adding "Chime" to the shortlist, saying that there would be six titles instead of five in that category this year.
Today, one week after that debacle, Lauren Myracle has withdrawn her book from the awards, citing pressure from the National Book Foundation, who manage the awards, as her reason for doing so.
"I was over the moon last week after receiving the call telling me that Shine was a finalist for the award,” she said in a statement. “I was later informed that Shine had been included in error, but would remain on the list based on its merits. However, on Friday I was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation (NBF) to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work, and I have agreed to do so."
Myracle, whose book is about the discrimination of gay youth in schools, voiced her support for the shortlisted authors, and added that "When I received the initial call about Shine being a finalist, I was humbled and honored to be in the company of such amazing authors. I was also deeply moved that in recognizing "Shine," the NBF was giving voice to the thousands of disenfranchised youth in America—particularly gay youth—who face massive discrimination and intimidation every day. So that something positive may come of their error, I have strongly suggested that the NBF donate to the Matthew Shepard Foundation [a charity focused on respecting human dignity among young people].”
A later statement was released, confirming a $5,000 donation to the charity by the NBF. Finalists in the National Book Awards receive $1,000.
Speaking to Publisher's Marketplace, the National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum said that "we made a terrible mistake," but that they asked Myracle to withdraw because 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."
In a private email to librarian Stephanie Wilkes, Augenbraum said that the NBF "very, very much regret what happened."
Many people on Twitter were not appreciative of the NBF's decision (see below.) The hashtag #IsupportShine is currently growing in popularity.
Update: This piece was updated to include quotes from the National Book Foundation and from users on Twitter.