Foreign Literary Awards; Or Lack There Of

I wanted to find a foreign young adult literary award and maybe discuss the books that had won it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any non-American, non-European awards in the top award lists. Now I’m sure there’s a few out there, but I could not find them. Instead I found list after list of American and Canadian young adult literature awards. That’s not to say that the books that have won these awards are inherently all American stories or even written by American authors, but there’s something to be said about the appreciation of young adult literature if there are no awards being given. Teachers, young adults, and other young adult literature readers often look to the award winner lists to pick their next read. Many people will never read amazing stories because they’ll never see it. If other countries had bigger awards they could create a bigger voice for foreign young adult literature and thus increasing the visibility of adolescents who happen to have struggles that differ from the average American teenager. Awarding young adult literature authors the awards they earn not only helps them with marketing of their book but it can often times give a platform to that author to be able to take a stance on an issue or start a movement if necessary. It’s obvious that literary awards are prestigious, but maybe they should be more inclusive as well.

Translation for Understanding


Currently there is a movement to translate more non-American young adult literature to English. I think this is mostly because American young adults are searching for a more demanding story. The American adolescent story has become redundant and mundane. Young adults are beginning to look for new material and finding that the compelling stories they want are either targeted towards adults or are in non-English languages. There are also claims that non-American young adult literature should be used more in American middle and high schools. Gretchen Schwarz wrote an article titled The Power of Foreign Young Adult Literature,and in this she explained that “foreign YA literature can open up the world to American readers, creating new understanding of and appreciation for other cultures” (Schwarz). So not only are young adults seeking out foreign literature for better reading material, but they can also learn about other cultures they may not ever have had the chance to. Schwarz also says, “It is all too easy to pass judgment on other nations for their past atrocities and crimes” (Schwarz), when she was discussing that there aren’t many books that discuss the Holocaust from the perspective of Germans or Poles, or even depict them in a good light. Books with the story of the Germans and Poles who helped Jews escape to safety exist somewhere and having the opportunity to share them with American students would be a great first hand learning experience.

Schwarz, Gretchen. “The Power of Foreign Young Adult Literature.” JTE v25n1 – The Evolving Classroom: A Study of Traditional and Technology-Based Instruction in a STEM Classroom, Digital Library and Archives of the Virginia Tech University Libraries,


Book Review: When Dogs Cry or Getting the Girl by Mark Zusak

Markus Zusak’s book was originally published in Australia under the title When Dogs Cry, but this version of the text was in German, so I opted to read the English version which was released under the title Getting the Girl. Both of the titles are titles of poems from the book.

In this story we meet Cameron Wolfe, the main character, who tells the story about himself and his brother, Ruben Wolfe. The story picks up when Cameron falls for Octavia, Rubens most recent ex-girlfriend. As the story unfolds it makes sense that Cameron would fall for a girl his brother has already dated because he often finds himself in his brother’s shadow; what he didn’t expect was for Octavia to like him back. Cameron thinks of himself as a typical loner. He has no friends except his family and has few hobbies, he usually just wanders the streets for fun; often finding himself outside Stephanie’s house, another girl who dated his brother and once called him a loser. Cameron struggles for a large part of the book with deciding how to tell his brother that he’s dating his ex-girl. He also acknowledges that after so long of his only outlet being through the poems he calls “his words” having a girl to talk to and open up to about himself presented harder than imagined.

When Ruben finally finds out about Cameron and Octavia, because she called the house to confirm plans and he answered the phone, he tried to be okay with it at first, but Ruben reacts the only way he knows how, through his fists. That night when Octavia came to the house to meet Cameron, she noticed the bruises on his face and realized that their relationship had caused conflict between the brothers and she leaves, not wanting to be the source of pain. Now Cameron doesn’t have his brother or the girl. It’s not until Ruben finds himself in a situation with his current girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, that Cameron gets a chance to be his brother’s hero. He waits up for him and after he doesn’t return from a fight he goes out looking for him and finds him beaten half to death and carries him all the way home.

Zusak tells a great story about familial conflict that can occur when siblings feel overshadowed by one another. His portrayal of Cameron is spot on as the shy loner, improbable of saving the day. He has not only two brothers that are all around “better” than him, but even a sister who works hard in school. The relationship between Cameron and Ruben is honest and easy to connect with because Rubens reaction is likely the way a brother would react if this happened to him. This story would be excellent for young adult readers. True conflict and real-life resolutions are more helpful to this age group than stories with little to no conflict or ones were the adults swoop in and fix everything. I really enjoyed this book and would be interested in reading the others in the series to see the relationship between the brothers in other parts of their lives.


Zusak, Markus. Getting the Girl. RHCP Digital, 2013.