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. yeah more books to read… must put on christmas list!!! o uh i think i got number 1! yippie… sry been wanting to do that since summer 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh 256 books in 4 months thats is soo crazy-making ❗ Those books sound really good.
    Now my list of books is even longer ❗

  3. i was on the thing that goes from long island to manhattan (forgot what its called)with my dad in my nicest and only dress it was weird

  4. Congrats Scott-sensei!! procrastinating is so fun. not that you were procrastinating but still. its nice to hear that you made some new friends. and you look ever so classy in that bow tie. 😛

  5. Well, i had heard about the book of the idian but it sounded kinda boring, but if you insist. Today was book fair for our class. We had 2 cases out of the 50. Wow, 2 cases of middle school, the rest all little kids.

  6. Sounds like fun. hehe. The whole “meeting in a secret place for lunch” thing for some reason gives me the image of the scene in So Yesterday when Hunter is supposed to meet Mandy with Jen. Congrats to Alexie. And now I have books to read! yay!

    Happy anniversary, too!!

  7. Awwww… You look so cute together! Happy Anniversary! I wish I could’ve read all of those books…

  8. I really need to find Skin Hunger… Justine talked about it so much! I’m having a hard time finding it though…

    Y’all look so pretty! I love the subway pic!


    *scrambles for calculator*

    that’s…that’s approximately 2.1 books a day (if two months had 31 days, and two had 30)!
    that takes skillz, man, skillz.

    and lucky middle school people, we don’t even have a book fair past 6th grade in my town.
    but the thing that depresses me most? that our jr high/high school library has only 2 scott books: specials, and the last days. i told the librarian (in my nicest little voice) that there are two books preluding specials in the trilogy/series/whatever-you-choose-to-call-it, plus another book following it, that the last days is the sequel to another book, and that our library would greatly benefit from the purchase of those novels.

    she said, “oh, i’ll look into it. ” well, nearly a year later, THERE’S NO OTHER SCOTT BOOKS THERE.

    but back to the original topic…i already requested four of the five books from my town (much more wonderful) library!

  10. Well all my library books of
    scott-las are Uglies and Pretties. I mean, COME ON! Theses people have no taste in books!

  11. i so read stroy of a girl! it was like bogus good! i read it in less than 12 hours. my family would call me pathetic, but i would call it an obsession. btw, im reading extras finally, and i love it! good going scott!

  12. hey umm, how if i was lookeing into it woule i be able to do the award thing. like i mean me reading all those books and doing what you did. that would be cool and fun in my eyes. especially since you get all the books free!

  13. wow. 😯 57. so what’s the first one on the list, lizzy-wa?

    and bran-la: at least they’re in order! lucky…but that’s what town library’s are for! i heart mine…it’s so wonderful i remember when i was in like 2nd grade and the magic treehouse books were popular…my library had nearly every book, and i read them all, thus, my reading obsession was born! lol 8)

  14. number one on the list is twilight. but im trying to avoid it by reading Magic or Madness r…e….a….l….l…y…slow. yeah.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😮

  15. I was going to read twilight but i don’t think i’m going to. They started a twilight club at my school and its only open to 8th graders. lol

  16. oh, serifina zane, my mom does that, too! when she has a good book to read, the highest compliment is to say “put it in the bathroom…” hmmm…same w/magazines, but the only problem is that the things sometimes get covered w/water…it’s sad…
    oh, and about the “to read” lists, another book is really good: it’s called, “i’d tell you i love you, but then i’d have to kill you,” then the next book is called “cross my heart and hope to spy…” it’s about a girl who goes to a boarding school for spies….
    oh, and scott-la! so good to have you back again!! and happy anniversary!! you look totally kick in that black tie thing…
    oh, i keep on saying “oh…” totally random of me… 😳
    oh ( 😳 ) and totally bogusly long post, too! 😳
    oh, ( 😳 ) and flower-child-something-ah says hi…she’s my sis…one of them, neways…
    gtg! have to do my chore 🙄 URGH!
    -Riderchild-wa :mrgreen:

  17. it’s gotta be said,
    there’s something insanely fun about being dressed up on the metro (subway, muni…)
    only it can be dangerous,
    to be a teenage girl in a dress,
    at night.
    cause the homeless people stare… O_O

  18. hehe. hobos. there are a bunch of hobos at the albertsons my scool bus passes. we named them. theres Bob, Billy Bob, Billy Sue, and Nicole. nicole is a guy. but we thot he was a girl when we named him, so the name kinda stuck. hehe.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😯

  19. Haha I can’t imagine being dressed up on the subway(Though it should be hilarious)

    Story of A Girl is actully really good. I just finished it

  20. well, i’ve read like 50+ books in three months without a deadline…..i read waaaay fast.

    knew today was gonna be a good day when i got home from school to a free copy of uglies on my doorstep. (i’ve already got one, but still)

    my middle school librarian would buy whole lists of books i made. i will never forgive her for thinking Peeps was the third in the Uglies trilogy though.

  21. I loved that book! I bought it in the airport on Sunday morning (I spent a lot of time on planes over the weekend) and finished it on the trip from Boston to Chapel Hill. It was amazing. Sherman Alexie is brilliant–I’m so glad that he won.

  22. haha, on sunday i went to the city w/ a bunch of friends, and we took the suway to get to canal street. none of us had ever been on a subway before, and there were no open seats when we got on so we had to hold onto a pole. unfortunately, we weren’t holding on tight enough when the subway first started moving, and at the first jerk we screamed and almost fell.

    it was pretty fun though, b/c on the way back we had gained better balance and were spinning around and between the poles. yeah there was no one else in the car that’s why we were able to… :mrgreen:

  23. EEK! I just saw him speak in Austin at the Texas Book festival (You should come down one year!!! It’s amazing>) and got the book signed. Yay. He’s just amazing. I’m glad you choose his book. 🙂

  24. last question…then i must go to bed…are you ‘joy from manhattan’ or is that just an account that you liked??? fawesome photos either way…

    i wanna sign up for the simon pulse thing! darn i must’ve missed the link; was it in a blog post?

    sry that was two. oh well off to sleep!

  25. scott that is amazingly fawesome.
    im sort of late commenting cus the teachers decided that right before thanksgiving break would be an excellent time to pile on the homework and projects.
    i am so ready for a whole week of sleeping in.

    scott i think you should post the list of the 256 books you read in the past four months.
    we can all read them adn pick our own winner.
    or just read them all in four months..

    anyway. ive got projects to finish..gak

  26. hey! i wanna sign up two! hehe. thats pretty wierd Taylor-wa…you just said everything i was going to say…except the apologizing. i never apologise for tallking to much. hehe.

    but yeah. those pics are so kick. i have yet to post my costume for i cannot get it to copy and paste. stupidness.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😆

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