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ALA awards

January 14, 2008


So I stayed up to catch the webcast of the ALA’s children’s and teen awards. Which are still going on, but the big YA awards have already been announced. And all I can say is, huh. Interesting. The Printz winner and honor list frankly shocked me.

Winner: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Honor books: Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox
One Whole & Perfect Day by Judith Clarke
Repossessed by A. M. Jenkins
Your Own, Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill

The only one I’ve read is The White Darkness, and that’s only because it was nominated for the Cybils. I’ve read good things about Dreamquake and Your Own, Sylvia, but never heard of One Whole & Perfect Day.

But The White Darkness. Really? I don’t think any of the mock awards I’ve seen picked most of these books, and I do think there were books that were more, well, excellent. I realize most of the books I like best aren’t literary, so I’m so not the best judge of this, but even as much as I dreaded finishing, oh, say Tamar by Mal Peet, I’d be more comfortable with that winning than The White Darkness. (That sound you hear? The shock of the other Cybils YA panelists. No, but the writing in Tamar really is excellent, it’s just not my kind of book.) And Repossessed? I like A. M. Jenkins, but I got bored reading it and didn’t even finish it. Although, maybe I should’ve taken that as a sign that it would win a literary award. Which reminds me of this passage from Geek High by Piper Banks, which I just read this afternoon:

This was what bugged me about literary fiction—you had to interpret everything. Why couldn’t a story just be a story? If the man is impotent, just say he’s impotent. Maybe Sadie’s books wouldn’t win any literary awards, but at least they’re good stories and they spare the reader from having to slog through page after page looking for hidden symbolism just to figure out what’s going on.

And, hey, Brave Story won the Batchelder. Maybe I’ll go read that as part of my New Year’s resolution to read more books in translation more consistently, and not just adult mysteries.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2008 4:34 am

    Wow…. um… wow! The only one I’ve read is “Your Own, Sylvia”… I’m… a little bit shocked that “Absolute Diary of a Part-Time Indian” didn’t get anything.. (but hey, it got the National Book Award, so I guess I can’t be too greedy…)

  2. January 14, 2008 5:34 am

    Oh, thank you for articulating my feelings about literary books! I knew I had to get out of academia when my professor asked why Harriet Beecher Stowe had written The Minister’s Wooing. I raised my hand and said, “Because she wanted to tell a good story.” Duh, right? They all looked at me like I’d started eating sand and continued talking about Stowe’s desperate need to articulate the suppressed desperation of women and the emotional traitorousness of men, or some such.

    And I fully agree with on the lack of Part-Time Indian in the awards. WTF?

  3. January 14, 2008 8:19 am

    I finished Repossessed last night as it is our teen book club choice for January… and I was totally shocked this morning when I saw it won an honor. It’s great to see a Texan on there, but I would never have dreamed it to be a Printz contender. I think that shocked me more than the snub of Sherman Alexie. Your Own Sylvia is very well done so that’s a fine choice. What an odd year.

  4. January 14, 2008 8:51 am

    Indeed. White Darkness??????

    I like our Cybils choices better.


  5. January 14, 2008 11:40 am

    Brave Story: Made of awesome. You’ll enjoy – it starts out so normally, and then gets surreal.

    Dreamquake – very good!

    White Darkness: Loved it. VERY surprised it won, it’s very cerebral, but it’s good. But no Sherman Alexie!? Uh… that’s very uncool. And it does feel like a snub. But why?

  6. January 14, 2008 1:53 pm

    Abby – Me, too!

    Maureen – Full credit to Piper Banks for writing the literary fiction complaint. I loved that passage so much that after I read Geek High, I immediately copied it down.

    Joanna – Yeah, I think what shocked me about Repossessed getting an honor is that it seems the least literary of her books and in my opinion is not as good as some of her previous stuff. I {heart} Damage, and Out of Order and The Beating Heart were pretty amazing as well.

    Charlotte – 🙂

    TadMack – I’ve been on the fence about reading Brave Story. On the one hand, it’s by Miyuki Miyabe. On the other, it’s freaking long! Which is kinda hypocritical of me, since I did just read an 800+ book last week, but… Call me shallow, but now that it won an award, I’m a lot more interested in reading it.

    Did any of you guys see the the BBYA straw poll results that Anne posted a couple of days ago? Very interesting to see how the Printz books fared in that. I realize they have two different mandates and that the Printz books are going to make the BBYA list regardless, but still. Very interesting.

  7. Tristam permalink
    January 15, 2008 10:06 am

    I was very disappointed with the Mock Printz list, especially by the fact that they overlooked Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, which is a beautiful, and beautifully written, book.


  1. WOW! « The YA YA YAs

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