Saturday, October 25, 2008

National Book Award Finalists and some interesting tidbits about the judges

The National Book Award Finalists were announced last week and I forgot to mention the finalist for "Young People's Literature" (Seriously, who calls it that?). And the finalists are:

Laurie Halse Anderson, CHAINS
Kathi Appelt, THE UNDERNEATH
Judy Blundell, WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED
E. Lockhart, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS
Tim Tharp, THE SPECTACULAR NOW

See! I told you that you will LOVE Frankie Landau-Banks! Now you can bet I'll be reading the rest of the list.

Almost as interesting at the finalists, is the list of judges for this award: Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events, Holly Black of The Spiderwick Chronicles Fame, not to mention Angela Johnson and Cynthia Voight (ok, and Carolyn Mackler, but I can't say I've ever read any of her books). Wouldn't you love to meet with just one of them, if not all of them?

Did you know judges for the National Book Awards have to be published authors of literature in the category that they are judging? I find that interesting because that doesn't necessarily make you knowledgeable about that category. Judges are nominated by past winners, finalists and judges. Each judge is paid $2,500, which is especially odd considering that the award finalists only receive $1,000. At least the winner gets more, $10,000.

After judges select five finalists, their job is done and a jury selects the actual winner. The NBA site states, "Jury members are chosen for their literary sensibilities and their expertise in a particular genre". Each year the jury completely makes up their own criteria for the winners so there is no telling who will win. The most interesting part is that the jury meets on the day of the awards ceremony to pick the winner. Talk about pressure to come to a quick agreement! No one tells the National Book Foundation members until the ceremony to the award winner is a surprise to everyone.

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