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Accidental National Book Award finalist withdraws from competition

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Lauren Myracle, a best-selling author who saw her young adult novel Shine accidentally designated as a National Book Award finalist, has withdrawn the title for consideration from the National Book Foundation's annual competition. Myracle said on Monday that the foundation had requested that she withdraw Shine "to preserve the integrity of the award."

The mistake occurred on Oct. 12, when foundation officials announced Shine among the award finalists before a live audience as one of the five finalists in the young people's literature category. The foundation added a sixth book, Chime by Franny Billingsley, to the list later that day.

"We made a mistake," National Book Foundation executive editor Harold Augenbraum said. "There was a miscommunication."

In interviews, Augenbraum has declined to elaborate on what the miscommunication was or how it occurred. But, as the Los Angeles Times and others have noted, Shine sounds an awful lot like Chime.

Initially, the foundation decided to leave Myracle's book on the list. "We could have taken one of the books away to keep it five," Augenbraum said last week. "But we decided that it was better to add a sixth one as an exception, because they're all good books."

Over the weekend, however, Augenbraum and the foundation changed their tune, saying in a statement:

The National Book Foundation regrets that an error was made in the original announcement of the Finalists for the 2011 National Book Award in Young People's Literature and apologizes for any confusion and hurt it may have caused Lauren Myracle. At her suggestion we will be pleased to make a $5,000 donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation in her name.

"The whole thing is a regrettable incident and I wish it hadn't happened," Augenbraum told the New York Times. "I feel terrible personally, and I feel terrible for Lauren."

Don't feel too bad for Myracle, though. Shine, which was published in May, is currently rising on Amazon's sales list--and undoubtedly on others--driven by the foundation's fumbling. After all, the chief marketing benefit of literary awards is to generate buzz around a given title--and thanks to the National Book Foundation's flub, Shine already has earned that distinction.

Winners of the National Book Awards will be announced Nov. 16.

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