The judges for this year's CILIP Carnegie Medal, the U.K.'s top prize for children's literature authors, "have rallied in the face of an extraordinary attack on the winning novel from the Telegraph, which called Kevin Brooks's The Bunker Diary a 'uniquely sickening read' which 'seems to have won on shock value rather than merit,' " the Guardian reported.
While the award judges praised the novel as "an entirely credible world with a compelling narrative, believable characters and writing of outstanding literary merit," Telegraph literary critic Lorna Bradbury labeled it "a vile and dangerous story" that was "much nastier" than other current dystopian YA fiction, the Guardian wrote.
Helen Thompson, chair of the CILIP Carnegie judging panel this year, countered that The Bunker Diary was "absolutely the book Carnegie should be championing--superbly well-written, atmospheric, and loved by readers.... Published as a young adult novel, not a children's book, The Bunker Diary is clearly aimed at an older audience, as can be seen from both the cover, and the description on the back of the cover. Age or 'warning' stickers are misleading and condescending--although I'm sure the publisher would be thrilled to have a warning sticker. Sales would go through the roof."
Brooks observed: "I've got no problem with anyone having their opinion, but this just doesn't stack up. The Bunker Diary is a book about dark and disturbing subjects--it has to contain dark and disturbing things. And it is aimed at teenagers, who I know from personal experience are perfectly capable of dealing with that.... I'm not writing about this in a provocative, gratuitous, glamorizing way--it's all written about realistically and thoughtfully. And I disagree that it lacks redemption--yes it doesn't have a happy ending, but within the story there is genuine kindness and love and protection, and if that is not a positive look at how humans can behave in a desperate situation, I don't know what is."
While over at The Bookseller - Penguin defends Carnegie winner
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