Alexie Rules

As you may remember, I was a judge for the National Book Awards this year. This meant reading 256 books in four months and discussing them with the other judges: Pete Hautman, James Howe, Patty McCormick, and Elizabeth Partridge. All of these folks are wonderfully smart and fantastic to talk about books to, which made the crazy-making reading schedule not only survivable, but a real pleasure.

They are all also terribly polite, which is a good thing. Here’s why: the judges meet the DAY OF THE AWARD CEREMONY to decide the winner of the award! We had lunch at a secret location and spent three hours hashing out which of the five nominees was the winner. It was stimulating and wonderful, and also heart-breaking to pick only one.

(Rumor has it that the non-fiction judges argued all the way up to that night, with many insults and brickbats thrown. But we were all very nice. That’s YA for you.)

There was barely time to rush home and get into black tie for the gala ceremony. Justine and I did the whole prom night thing and took photos of ourselves. It was also our sixth anniversary, so we had two excuses for frocking up!

And, of course, the only thing that’s more fun than wearing black tie is wearing black tie on the subway. Here we are in our finery en route to Times Square:


The best thing about selecting the winner that day was that I only had to keep the secret for five hours. So now the news is out: The winner in the young people’s category was Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, who gave a lovely and heartfelt speech about how much cooler it is to write YA than adult fiction. Amen, dude.

Alexie on giant screen and as a tiny bright blob on the right.

The book is about a Spokane Indian kid who commutes from his impoverished reservation to attend a relatively wealthy all-white school. It’s wickedly funny, an incredibly easy read, and yet has all kinds of epic emotional impact. Great cartoons as well.

But I must mention that all the nominees were great. Here are the other four in alphabetical order:

Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
Two stories, set decades apart, intertwine and show how magic reenters the world. Dark and fascinating, and one of the more complex narratives I’ve read in years. (12 up)

M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow
A teenage girl in a Hatian family in the US tells how she killed her abusive step father. A darkly funny glimpse into a brutal immigrant experience, with a vast emotional wallop. A first novel! (14 up)

Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Told half in gorgeous pictures and half in text, a young boy discovers mechanical secrets inside the walls of the Paris train station. Magical storytelling, completely original. (10 up)

Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl
A seventeen-year-old girl in a small town lives with a bad reputation. Pitch perfect realism. Another first novel! (12 up)

Go read them all!

171 thoughts on “Alexie Rules

  1. O my gosh I’m soo excited I got one of my cousins to read the uglies seris! i didn’t spell that right. Whatever. Anyway she loves it! I finally got someone else to read scott books ❗ 😆

  2. hey Lizzy-wa tell us if you like twilight cuz i’m debating weather or not to read it

    Im going to read all of scott-la’s books first tho

  3. Serafina, put “In the dark, it’s less dangerous” Sorry, but I HATE Nirvana. But my ELA makes us listen to them.

  4. When I get home from school, I have terrific news…about me…that I just found out last night

    The anticipation is KILLing me!!

  5. Ya me to. Twilight sounds like a good book but i dont no if ill like it. So let me know to lizzy-wa.
    I dont have school!!!!!
    O, and allie-wa, i want to know whats killin you. TELL ME!

  6. i didn’t like twilight. i mean, everyone on earth loves it but i got really sick of it and eclipse sucked. totally book crack. also crap. like, if you want to read it i won’t NOT reccomend it, but i can think of so many better books to read. i mean, everyone who reads it seems to love it but bella swan gets on my nerves she’s annoying and moony and the book has no plot and sigh. it’s like crack. good the first time, not as good as you remember the second, increasingly stupid and disgusting if you take the time to think about it, and eventually you grow to hate yourself for ever liking it.

    Allie-wa—i only put in Nirvana cuz i was being faithful and writing down what i was listening to during the essay-writing and my parents were watching Classic Albums-Nevermind. i also put in arbitrary Against Me! lyrics that fit waaaay too well.

    i got my braces off! i is free! and missing school!!!

  7. Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
    that one looks the most interesting to me … right now i am finishing extras and then over break ..i am going to try to read a certain clant of light and start my book list that i made … well you wil be happy to know that midnighters and peeps is on there .. my friends say that they are wonderfull

  8. and here it is.
    now let’s see…in front of me i have two copies of uglies. one i bought a few months ago (pre-extras release) when i decided to buy the whole trilogy. i got sent the other one last week. they’re the same book. same cover. both paperback. same first chapter of pretties in the back. even the same add for tithe and valiant on the last page. same tagline. same synopsis. same everything.

    they’re exactly the same, in fact, except for one thing—the newer one has a little box on the top that announces it is “The New York Times Bestseller” (odd phrasing not. not “a” new york times bestseller. “THE” new york times bestseller. something oddly egotistical there…)
    and the back is different too—the suggested retail price on my old copy is $ 7.99.
    and the one labelled as an NYT bestseller is $8.99
    same book. two months later. a dollar different.

    either the cost of paper is going up, or that little phrase—that sentance fragment—is worth an extra dollar.

    people often ask what the price of fame is. the price of success. the price of a lot of people buying your book.
    i’ve found the anserw.
    the price of being on the new york times bestseller list?
    one dollar per book.

    think about THAT.

  9. *happy dance* more books.. must put on booklist… i’m a sucker for books. that’s all i want for x-mas is books/giftcards (for borders or itunes)/and more books!

  10. Hi Scott-la~
    Please believe me when I tell you that I am your number one fan I costantly check my e-mail to see if you have sent me anything please e-mail me!!!!! You are the most inspirational author EVER!!!

    Thank-You For Your Time,

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