As you might know from reading 10 inches below this post (or, if for some reason you gets infos from somewhere else other than our little Likely Stories, you already know from anywhere else), the National Book Award nominations were announced yesterday. And while the NBAs are no stranger to odd picks, especially in the Young People’s category (am I the only one who thinks this is a weird designation? How about Youth Literature, or anything else a mite less stodgy than Young People’s Literature. I’d even be happier with Youngster’s Literature. It’s not like we’re going to get it mixed up with Young Alpaca’s Literature, and they don’t call the other categories Adult People’s Nonfiction. Ok, enough on that), there’s a doozy of a pickle in this year’s nominations.
There’s going to be no small amount of a tizzy over the fact that David Small’s outstanding graphic memoir Stitches got nominated in the Young Human’s Literature category, despite the fact that it was published by Norton as an Old People’s book. Apparently, it doesn’t matter to the committee who a book was published for, but only what category the publisher submits the book for nomination. Via Mediabistro:
“There was a question among the judges [in the young people's literature category],” Harold Augenbraum, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, told us when we called asking about the nomination, “but it ultimately depends on where the publisher nominates the book, and this is where [Norton] nominated it.”
There’s a couple of thorny issues here. The underlying assumption is that a graphic novel, even one expressly published for adults, wouldn’t be able to compete in the oldster’s categories, and thus needs to be entered into the youth category, because, you know, comics are for kids. The other problem is that Stitches has, deservedly or not based on pure artistic merit, edged out a spot that should by all rights be occupied by a book that was expressly written for children or young adults (and there’s certainly no shortage of such worthy children’s books, coughWhen Your Reach Mecough, or even children’s graphic novels, ah Ah AHThe Storm in the BarnCHOO!). I almost feel sorry for Stitches now, because if it ends up winning, no one’s going to be happy about it, even though it’s a deliriously good book that deserves all kinds of recognition. Anyway, going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out, and what effect it has on other youth-related awards this season.