There’s been a lot of discussion recently about a new Hugo award category for best Young Adult novel. My instinct is that this is a bad idea. Not because I have any problem with YA literature or any desire to ‘snub’ it, but for the same reason I don’t like the Oscar for Best Animated Feature: it feels like it ghettoises the genre. At least with Best Animated Feature, there’s the possibility of being nominated for Best Picture as well (although this has very rarely happened), but as it stands, being nominated in one category for the Hugos precludes nomination in other categories and I’d hate to see novels which are good enough to win the Best Novel award being ‘relegated’ to Best YA Novel.
Reading up the subject, there have been some creative solutions, including the suggestion that only young people should be able to nominate and/or vote in any YA Hugo category, to avoid the suggestion that older people are telling the younger what to read, which is interesting. This, and the suggestion of the YA category at all are both touted as ways to make WorldCon and the Hugo awards more relevant to young people and bring the next generation into fandom, something which can only be a Good Thing.
After having followed up on some of the discussion, I’m not as opposed to the idea as I was at the start. There are some good reasons out there for having one. I just think it needs to be done carefully, to avoid the problem of ghettoisation.