Well, this is one of the most exciting press releases I’ve had the opportunity to write.
NATE POWELL’S SWALLOW ME WHOLE NOMINATED FOR LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE
–First graphic novel since 1992’s MAUS to make the list–
Swallow Me Whole is one of five official finalists in the category of Young Adult Fiction, making it the first graphic novel to be nominated for this prize, in any category, since Art Spiegelman’s Maus won the Fiction category in 1992! “I’m honored just to be considered,” says Powell, “and feel dizzy having my book even placed in the same sentence as Maus.”
Although Swallow Me Whole was not created exclusively for young adult readers, it is fundamentally a story about the dark, quiet corners of adolescence. The book follows two teenage stepsiblings, Ruth and Perry, through the ups and downs of school, family, and suburban restlessness — all complicated by the insect armies, swirling visions, and haunting voices that no one else can perceive.
“To be a young person is to be surrounded at all times by frightening transition and the terror of losing touch with a safe and familiar world,” says Powell. “Sometimes the only salvation from that terror is in what a teenager can create for themselves.”
I actually never realized it until just now, but Swallow Me Whole reminds me of a book from my youth, Neal Shusterman’s 1992 YA novel The Eyes of Kid Midas, which I discovered around age 10. Midas started out incredibly familiar — not just presenting a realistic world that resembled my own life, but incorporating fantastical ideas and events that felt exactly right. Yes, that’s what I would do if I found a pair of sunglasses that made my wishes come true. Since I spent so much of my youth thinking about the fantastical, it was actually a more accurate portrayal of my world than a straight-up realistic novel would have been.
And then it got creepy. And then it got terrifying. It completely messed with my head. And I loved it. It’s still somewhere in my head to this day. “You know, Josh, the worst part is that I don’t even get into trouble for it.”
Swallow Me Whole is more challenging than Kid Midas… but it’s also more real. I love thinking about what it might do for young people. It might screw them up, in the good way. It might even help them put themselves together.