Five days after nominating the young adult novel Shine by Lauren Myracle for a National Book Award, the nominating committee sheepishly divulged it had made a mistake. According to a statement from Myracle’s publisher, Amulet Books, Myracle “was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work.”
Ouch. The Foundation didn’t indicate why it didn’t want to nominate Shine, but perhaps the book’s provocative subject matter proved too outre for the NBF. Shine is a coming-of-age story in which a 16-year-old girl named Cat finds her best friend, Patrick, viciously beaten and lashed to a gas pump with anti-gay epithets written on his chest. In her insular southern town marred by poverty and intolerance, Cat must find the perpetrator and bring justice to her friend—even when the rest of her neighbors prefer to leave well enough alone. Or maybe Shine just sounded a lot like Chime, a novel by Franny Billingsley, which was the rightful nominee.
In explaining the mistake to the Los Angeles Times, NBF Executive Director Harold Augenbraum admitted, “We made a mistake, there was a miscommunication.” The nomination had been announced live in front of an audience of publishing industry veterans. Myracle graciously agreed to withdraw her novel from consideration, with a caveat: she asked the NBF to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization founded to “encourage respect for human dignity and difference by raising awareness, opening dialogues, and promoting positive change.” The NBF quickly agreed.