Lauren Myracle: how it felt to be dropped from National Book Awards

Author Lauren Myracle says she sees the awards debacle as a lesson of how "messy and wonderful" life can be – but that it took her a while to get there.

Lauren Myracle's novel 'Shine' is actually getting a boost in publicity after it attracted attention for being pulled from the National Book Awards.

How does it feel to win huge national accolades for your work – and then have them taken away? If you’re author Lauren Myracle, you take it as a lesson in the craziness of life – “messy, wonderful life."

Myracle, who was told she had been nominated for a National Book Award before news came that there had been a mistake, wrote in The Huffington Post that the experience has been “just one more reminder not to be so invested in validation from external sources”.

It did, though, take her a while to get to that point.

“Telling my parents about the mix-up, and telling them about the decision to pull the book – by that point the writing was on the wall – that was the worst part,” Myracle wrote. “God, it sucks to disappoint your parents, even at forty-two years old. They were nothing but loving, of course. I should have known they'd be. I did know they'd be. It still sucked.”

Myracle told Vanity Fair that she had felt gutted to hear that the awards judges wanted her to withdraw her book, “Shine,” from consideration for the award.

“I felt embarrassed, and ashamed that I had the gall to believe that this book was worthy.” But she decided to “be classy” and agreed to withdraw the title, which told the story of a 16-year-old girl whose gay friend is the victim of a hate crime. She wrote that when she was told the book was a nominee she had been “deeply moved that in recognizing 'Shine,' the NBF [National Book Foundation] was giving voice to the thousands of disenfranchised youth in America – particularly gay youth – who face massive discrimination and intimidation every day.”

On her suggestion, the book foundation went on to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a charity founded in honor of the young man who was killed in an anti-gay hate crime. The director of the Shepard foundation wrote that “this is one of those rare situations when something that could have created a lot of bitterness instead produced something positive that everyone involved can be proud of. It’s a wonderful example to us all.”

Myracle wrote that the donation is “the one unsullied good thing that’s come out of this for me.” But in comments on her most recent piece, dozens of people applauded how she handled the situation. They said they might never have heard of “Shine” if the controversy hadn’t occurred – and now they want to read
the book.

Seattle writer Rebekah Denn blogs at

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