Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Bittersweet Victory

The 2011 National Book Award Winners were announced last night. Audiences applauded the well-deserved wins:

Fiction: Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones
Non-fiction: Stephan Grenblatt's The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Poetry: Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split
Young People's Literature: Thanhha Lai's Inside Out & Back Again

Five finalists had been chosen for each category. Each finalist won $1,000 and a medal, and each winner received $10,000.

I still wonder, though. After everything that happened in the young adult category with Lauren Myracle's Shine, did Franny Billingsley even have a chance with Chime? (Get caught up with the backstory here). Had too much dust already been kicked up with the two novels? Did the controversy skew the judges final decisions? While National Book Award higher-ups insist that the mix-up "will never happen again," did Chime getting thrown into an unavoidable debate ruining Billingsley's chances?

Regardless, Lai's award-winning YA novel is worthy of the honor and praise it has received. And hopefully the next time Billingsley and Myracle find themselves on the finalist lists for major awards, they will get a fair judging.

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