Gene Luen Yang, National Book Award Nominee, Makes Publishing History … in more ways than one …
Gene Luen Yang’s latest book, American Born Chinese, has made him famous. Most definitely. And for a good long while, he’s going to be carrying around some version of the much-deserved moniker “author of the first graphic novel ever to be nominated for the National Book Award.”
So Yang didn’t win this time around – just wait! He did score big-time in the world of publishing. In fact, M.T. Anderson, whose The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol.1: The Pox Party took the 2006 Award in the Young People’s Literature category, specifically lauded Yang during his acceptance speech. Anderson responded to “a lot of dithering in the blogosphere” questioning Yang’s graphic novel as deserving of a National Book Award nominee nod by praising the nominating panel for including American Born Chinese on the shortlist, certainly an important first in the NBA’s 57-year history.
The controversy all began when Tony Long, Wired magazine columnist of “The Luddite,” wrote half of his October 26, 2006, column on why graphic novels are not NBA-worthy. Even as he admitted to not having read American Born Chinese (although he grudgingly noted, “I’ll bet for what it is, it’s pretty good”), he unequivocally announced, “Comic books should not be nominated for National Book Awards, in any category.” Just to add a bit more salt, he threw in “The comic book does not deserve equal status with real novels, or short stories.” Uh-oh. …[click here for more]
Author interview: The Bloomsbury Review, January/February 2007
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult