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Holes: Author Louis Sachar’s 1999 BGHB Fiction Award Speech

In Holes, Stanley Yelnats assumes his position among unlikely but likable folk heroes of mythic proportion. The author presents a sophisticated, satisfying, surreally realistic mystery–tall tale in a place where past and present intersect. —1999 BGHB judge Maria B Salvadore

holesThis is great. It is very gratifying to be recognized by the Boston Globe and Horn Book. I feel especially rewarded being here in New England at this time of year. Holes was inspired by my dislike of the hot Texas summer. It is now autumn in Texas. According to the newspaper, the projected temperature in Austin today is 93 degrees. We have our fall color as well. Brown. You don’t know the pleasure I get just putting on a jacket. Or maybe you do.

As I was writing the novel, I identified with my main character, Stanley Yelnats, who had to dig a hole each day, five feet deep and five feet wide under the blazing Texas sun. Most days I too felt like I was struggling for no apparent reason.

It occurs to me now that Stanley was sentenced to Camp Green Lake for eighteen months, which was exactly how long it took me to write Holes. I arbitrarily chose the length of his sentence early on. Maybe on some unconscious level, I knew how long it would take.

I’m carrying this comparison a bit too far. All things considered, I would rather be writing than digging. My office is air-conditioned. But most days it was hard to believe I’d ever finish the book, let alone receive the accolades that I’ve now received.

I want to thank the judges for selecting Holes as the winner of this year’s award for fiction. And let me take this opportunity to also thank and recognize everyone at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, especially my editor Frances Foster, whose advice and support has been invaluable.

Louis Sachar received the 1999 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction Award for Holes (Foster/Farrar). From the January/February 2000 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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