Handler apologizes for watermelon joke at awards

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Daniel Handler is apologizing for comments made at the National Book Awards that have been criticized as racist.

The author sometimes known as "Lemony Snicket" hosted Wednesday night's ceremony in Manhattan, where one of the winners was Jacqueline Woodson's "Brown Girl Dreaming." After Woodson collected her prize, Handler shared what he called a private joke. He had learned that Woodson was allergic to watermelon and suggested she mention it in a book. She in turn suggested that he mention it. His response: only if Woodson, Cornell West, Toni Morrison and President Barack Obama approve.

On Thursday, Handler tweeted that he had meant to celebrate the achievements of Woodson and others and that his "ill-conceived attempts at humor" had distracted from that.

"I clearly failed, and I'm sorry," he wrote.