Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Unpopular opinions and the Edwards Award

Scroll down on this page to the link to "Edwards Award goes to controversial anti-gay author" at http://ypulse.com/archives/2008/01/ypulse_book_ess.php . YPulse's comment is: Ug. How did this happen? This feels like a mistake that no one will admit to.

You know what? If I were on this year's Edwards committee, I'd fully admit to that "mistake." Only it's not a mistake. Normally I like what YPulse has to say about books and reading, but in discussing the Edwards award they completely missed the mark.

Kimberly Paone and Roger Sutton are absolutely right in their statements to School Library Journal. The politically correct answer is that it's icky that Orson Scott Card got what is more or less the YALSA Lifetime Achievement Award for a book, but political correctness does not and should not have any bearing on the Edwards Award. If we hold Orson Scott Card to a certain standard then we must hold ALL the recipients to that standard, and that would be ridiculous because the scope of the award is not based on an author's life or personal thoughts. It's based on his or her art and contribution to the YA genre. There's a possibility that in 10 years, David Levithan will be given the Edwards for Boy Meets Boy, and couldn't the same argument be made then, that his writing about positive, fun GLBT characters is somehow wrong and corrupting of teenagers? I may not feel that way personally, but I guarantee that many people do today and will ten years from now. If Card should be chastised and denied an award for speaking his mind on GLBTQ people, then couldn't Levithan be chastised and denied that same award for doing the same, only in the opposite direction?

In many aspects of life librarians have to separate the personal from the professional. There's one author whose books I don't like at all and usually don't recommend, but I think the author is a great person. I hated more than one book I voted for at Popular Paperbacks this year because I knew that despite my dislike of them, they fit the charge of the committee perfectly. I review for Kirkus and VOYA and my separation of personal and professional is tested on a near-daily basis when writing for those publications. Giving awards and positive reviews to books and authors is almost never a black-and-white issue.

Try again, YPulse. It's not all about you.

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