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. I gotta read those. Especially ‘Story of a Girl’, I’ve been wanting to read that one. YA totally rules 🙂

  2. wow…serafina’s got skillz! seriously when the whole lolcat contest was going on i hearted your winning entry (eyeball tattoo…lol), although at the time i didn’t know whose it really was! but you should really go into art—but you probably already know that.

    anyway, i’m gonna go do some obsessive googling on that offer, even if it is too late for uglies!

  3. ahh I HATE missing out on so many comments b/c there are so many things I want to say…like how I loved I’d tell you I loved you but then I’d have to kill you” (finished it 4 the 2nd time 2day) and cant wait to get “Cross my heart and hope 2 spy”…and how I TOTALLY HATE how teachers always give u homework rite b4 Thanksgiving break and evry other long break from school…and how I don’t think my school has even one Scott book (lame, lame LAME!!)…and how i have ttly started making a list of books I need 2 read (I just started it around 12 today) – with Twilight at the top!! Along with “Snakehead”, which just came out the 13th (so it’s bound to be good, of course, coming out on the 13th. And I’ve been waiting for it for a whole year.)…And how you aren’t missing out on much if your school doesn’t have book fairs, they suck badly)

    But i can’t say any of that because its bringing up a subject that has already come and gone.

    Plz tell me i’m not the only 1 w/ this problem. maybe if I stayed up latr, I could-…or is 12am already 2 late? (I was up til 1:15 exact the othr night then woke up at 6:30 the next mrning 2 do homework I forgot 2 do.)

    This why I always have such long comments!!! I srsly need my own blog but parentals would kill me if i did…

  4. Well im about to eat a brownie. Oh, not just any brownie, a brownie with an inch of whip cream and a layer of chacolate. Oh, and i got the last days. Um sad its not about Lacy and OMG I FORGOT HIS NAME! Someone please tell me his name. the point is i loved them together!

  5. bran-la: you mean Cal! and yeah it’s not about them but it’s just as good anyway, i loved the last days

    allie-wa: i have that problem too…and then (b/c i’m JUST THAT OBSESSIVE) i have to read through all of the comments that have gone up since i’ve last checked, too—unless it’s like 100 or something, and then i skim. :mrgreen:

  6. OOOO YA! I knew that somewhere deep down i knew his name, just coulnt think about it. O and i read the first to chapters. At first a thought Moz was a girl, guess not. Pleas correct me if it i a girl. But i think its a guy.

  7. moz is a guy. a pretty cool guy. the last days rocks. and yeah, it’s Cal.

    thanks taylor! glad u liked my entry. and thanks for the compliment! i never think i’m that good at art…especially not people. but writing will always be my first choice of a career, of course…..

    i ttly have that prblm 2, allie-wa, whenever i leave for a while. i just kinda comment on them anyway or regret it. then again, i got no life so i’m on here all the time.

    i’m eating banana bread. and reading Maddigan’s Fantasia (post-apocalyptic circuses pull me in, even if they are MG) and watching fuse.

  8. Ya i should be doing something useful right now but, w/e. Im lazy. Lol. I like cinnamon bread. Have you ever tried. The best! So far, the last days id good (so far as in chapter 3).
    serafina Zane: Im pretty sure you have a life. From just hearing you comment on Scott-las blog i wish you were my friend or at least new you! You seem like a fun person!
    They say that the worst critics are yourself!

  9. yeah, but you might notice that i’m commenting on a blog on the internet. that in itself shows i have no life.
    people like me better on the internet then in real life. that’s slightly sad. but then again i am awesome. lol.
    and i don’t mind. i’m tremendously antisocial.

    i’m not a cinnoman bread person. i made banana bread today for the second time this week….and i smell mexican food now.

    the last days rock.
    i confuse this guy in my math class because i’m always making last days logos and stuff.

  10. You seem fine to me!
    You dont seem antiscoical, those are people who literally were muzzles.
    im pretty sure ur not a dog.
    I like bananas. YUM!
    I will now bore my self some more. yeah. whoa. (bored face and unexcited yells)
    There is no one on to talk to!

  11. Yeah i check the blogs on here all the time and if leave for a while i have to read all the blogs that were posted when i wasn’t constantly checking the computer screen. Yup i have no life. 😆

  12. mmm, banana bread, my favorite!!!! my dad makes the best!!!! i like to put peanut butter on mine. some people think that’s weird, but it’s really good!!!!

    yay, more books to read!!! a while ago someone commented on here and talked about alot of good vampire books, so i wrote them down, and i’m just now getting to them all. blue bloods was one of them, and is completely AWESOME!!!! it’s right up there with all of scott-la’s books!!!

    in earlier comments it sounded like some people on here are already on thanksgiving break. are you? i have only 2 days next week!!! it’s completely flip flopped!! 2 day week and a 5 day weekend!!! and my school is pretty nice about homework over school breaks. except freshman science. last year spring break totally sucked. we had to do a stupid rube goldberg project. and my teachers are just lucky that me and my partner don’t ever go anywhere on spring break, cuz if one of us did, my mom would have to yell at them. and she would. anyway, cya!!! this was a long post. but so fun!!!

  13. hmmm….person listing lots of vampire books…..funny feeling that was me.
    if so, yes! i influence the world.
    if not, WHO? who has book reccomendations they have been hiding from me?!! gimmie!

    i got 2 and a half days of school next week but i’m skipping 2/3 of one.

    i have a 10 paragraph essay to write that i don’t know the topic of on a book i haven’t read and lost my copy of and it’s due monday.

  14. we just got out todayy..
    full week of sleep yess.
    i have to do a book report this week, but thats nothing compared ot what some teachers give out over break.

    hmm..i plan on sleeping adn reading. a lot.

  15. ooh, that’s bad, serafina zane. if that happened to me, i would be freaking out so much i’d go insane. and i don’t think it was you who recommended those books. the name was way shorter. i don’t even remember what post it was on, so i can’t tell you.

    yeah, i’m gonna read alot too. i mean, what else is there to do on a school break? you know, except obsessively watching and recording the 3 things the jonas brothers are gonna be on in the next week!!! yeah, i love them, they are sooooo awesome!!! ah, my 2 obsessions, books, and jonas brothers. i will get alot of both this thanksgiving!! ha, guess what i give thanks for!! lol!!

  16. yummm…banana bread. i make the most fawesomest banana bread! i rule at cooking stuff. but i dont do it to often cause my mom makes me clean it up.

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 😀

  17. i dont know if anyone is here, but has anyone heard of the Darfur Genocide?

    Women are being raped and murdered by the militia every day, but we can help.
    if you donate just three dollars to the DarfurFast, you can protect one woman from the genocide for an entire year.

    or you can organize your school or other group and do Dollars for Darfur.

    Whichever, they both greatly help the refugees of Darfur. already, hundreds of women are being protected (i know for a fact more than 141 are being protected just in the harry potter community) and if everyone joins in, so many more can be saved. here are links,,

  18. hehe. yeah Co-Prez-la. your were fawesome. i hope you get better! im always sick on the weekends. it stinks! like, i wont feel so brite an shiny when i get home from scool on friday. then on saturday i have a fever and have to miss EVERYTHING! then on sunday i feel kinda bad but im getting better. then on monday im coughing up a storm and needing to blow my nose every two seconds, but the parentals make me go to scool anyway! just cause im not running a fever or puking! wazup with that?!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! 💡

  19. oh, serifina zane, in answer to ur previous question about snakehead, i think it’s another alex rider book…and i totally know how you feel, allie-wa from comment 53…see? the fact that i’m talking 2 u right now is living proof that i hate it too…
    i finished i’d tell u i love you but then i’d have to kill u…i’m waiting for cross my heart and hope to spy to come from my liberry…i ordered it WEEKS ago! pain and suffering!!
    i have school on monday, tuesday, and somewhat on wednesday…but then have thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday off too!! yay!! and i don’t really have homework over long vacations…i’m homeschooled….
    well, right now my sis, flower-child-something-ah wants me to turn on some music…gtg!
    -Riderchild-wa :mrgreen:

  20. Err I have to go to school 2 days next week. It’s pointless, really.

    I can’t wait til I see if my Special pictures came out…I used a really crappy disposable camera so I’m not sure how they turned out…

    But I can’t wait to see!!!!!!

    hehe I’m home right now. alone. its fawesome. Cause I blast my music on three different stereos in the house.

    Serafina, why do you search obscure things on Wikipedia? I actually edit the articles sometimes. I have an account. But I can’t say what it is b/c the peoples there probably think I’m 18+. Which is kinda cool yet sad, considering…well, I’m not. And I don’t want them to find out. It would kinda ruin reputation.

    Scott-la has his own category on Wikipedia. Go to the Uglies article and go down to the bottom where it says Category:Novels by Scott Westerfeld. Fawesome, huh?

    I actually love being sick. Unless I still have to go to school. Like this week – I’ve had a sore throat all week, my temp is 99.0, but I STILL have to go to school. But at least I didn’t have to play stupid games in PE and run around the gym floor. That would suck. Especially since I have giant blisters on my feet. I mean, they cover my whole heel.

    ok, was that disturbing/nasty/tmi?

    hooray for long comments!!

  21. Yes! Alex Rider! i took so long on my comment that I didn’t see yours, Riderchild-wa!

    If you want to read Snakehead, then you must read Stormbreaker, Point Blank, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, and Ark Angel first. I’ve been waiting for Snakehead for forever. And its finally out and I’m getting it today!! yay

  22. i haven’t quite finished ark angel yet…heh, heh…but i have read all of the rest!!
    oh, and lizzy-wa…if u want to read cross my heart and hope to spy, u have to read i’d tell you i love you, but then i’d have to kill you…(oh, and they’re by allie carter)
    ull really love them!!
    oh no!! u guys have given me the obsessive-checking disease!!! AUGH!!
    well, i’ll probly be back in like five minutes…
    -Riderchild-wa :mrgreen:

  23. okay, this won’t be a long post, i promise!! i just forgot 2 mention something…(u know, we would be able to cut the amount of comments in half if we didn’t all post evry five minutes…)
    i’m just gonna check the liberry to see if cross my heart and hope to spy, because i’ve been waiting for t for WEEKS, WEEKS, i tell u, WEEKS! my sis, warriorchild-wa, just woke up, and it’s like 1:35…and almost 100 comments…hmm….this is a sign that scott-la should like post again…
    i do this homeschool science-club thingey, and by our next meeting, we have to classify the horse, cat, and human (like the kingdom, phylum, class, species thing…) actually last year we did this classifying thing and i chose the horse, and i still remember the species…equus caballas…i have all of this pointless stuff stuck in my brain now…poor me.
    right now we’re listening to les miserables…good movie, about the french revolution (i think)
    okay, i know…very long post…sorry…i’ll shut up now…(meaning like five minutes…)
    -Riderchild-wa :mrgreen:

  24. URGH!!! 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 i just checked!! i cant believe it!! it hasn’t arrived…only another alias prequel novel (actually pretty good, but i want cross my heart and hope to spy! i’ll now start pouting, and i don’t think u want to hear me…
    -Riderchild-wa 😡

  25. yeah. i think some of us (like, say, me) need to cut back on commenting.

    and yes. sickness sucks. have spent whole day on couch.

    oooh….that’s an alex rider book. suspected as much.
    same thing happened to me with Valiant, Riderchild. weeks and weeks and weeks and then it turned out that the stupid library system had me chasing after the one paperback copy when there were like 80 available hardcovers. arrrgh!

    and i think we digress pretty fast.

    and i was looking up Code Lyoko cuz i was just remembering how i used to watch that show and it was awesome. it’s funny, looking back, but all those themes (teenagers at boarding school with other world defeating stuff getting possessed, emo main guy character and goth girlfriend, blond slacker guy, geeks, ect) have all really influenced me. crazy.

    i hope i get better by monday—i want my braces OFF!

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