After it became clear last week–in less than straight-forward fashion–that Lauren Myracle’s young adult book SHINE was erroneously named as a National Book Award finalist, the title has now been withdrawn from the competition and no longer appears on the National Book Foundation’s website.
Myracle says in a release from publisher Amulet that she “was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work” on Friday and agreed to do so. In recognition of the error and, we imagine, the sloppy process of dealing with that mistake, the NBF “has agreed to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.” (The organization works to protect gay youth and “replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.”
Publisher Susan Van Metre says in the announcement, “We are so proud of Shine, a beautiful and important book, and of Lauren, not least for her grace in such a difficult week. We strongly encourage the NBF to review their procedures for transmitting award information between the judges and the staff and to authors and the public so that a painful error like this doesn’t happen again.”
“We made a terrible mistake,” National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum told us in a brief telephone interview Monday morning. “From the very beginning we acknowledged that a mistake was made. We regret the hurt that it caused Lauren. It’s none of her doing. On behalf of the Foundation, I apologize. [Myracle’s] work is very good. what more can I say?” As to how things changed from last Wednesday, when the category expanded to include six titles, to Friday, when the Foundation asked Myracle to withdraw, Augenbraum reiterated that 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.”
Augenbraum denied the decision to withdraw Myracle’s nomination would have any effect on the other National Book Award categories, though he was emphatic that the current process of imparting nomination lists would change so this would “never happen again.” Finally, we asked whether recent events might result in his being asked to resign: “I can’t comment on that,” Augenbraum said.