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Book briefs: PEN awards, ‘Colbert bump’

NEW YORK (AP) — Playwright David Rabe, journalist and critic James Wolcott and poet Frank Bidart are among this year’s winners of awards given out by the PEN American Center, the literary and human rights organization.
Ron Childress’ “And West is West” won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for socially engaged fiction. Wolcott received a $10,000 “Art of the Essay” prize for his collection “Critical Mass.” Rabe won the $7,500 “Master Dramatist” prize. He’s known for “Hurly Burly” and “Sticks and Bones,” among other plays.
Bidart got $5,000 for his “distinguished and growing body of work.” His books include “Desire” and “Metaphysical Dog.”
The honors were announced Wednesday.
Among other winners, Donald Margulies received $7,500 for best midcareer playwright and Laura Marks was awarded $2,500 for best emerging playwright.
Edan Lepucki, whose novel “California” became a bestseller thanks to a plug from Stephen Colbert, has in turn helped another book catch on.
During an interview on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” that aired Monday night, Lepucki recommended Stephan Eirik Clark’s “Sweetness #9.” By Tuesday morning, the novel was in the top 300 on Barnes & Noble.com and in the top five for Powell’s Books, an independent store based in Portland, Oregon, that has been a leading seller of Lepucki’s book.
Both “California” and “Sweetness #9” are part of Colbert’s campaign to help works published by Hachette Book Group USA, which is in tense contract negotiations with Amazon.com. The online retailer is not accepting pre-orders for “Sweetness,” an August release, and other Hachette books.
NEW YORK (AP) — A Connecticut teacher who helped save students’ lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has a book deal.
G.P. Putnam’s Sons announced Tuesday that “Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Your Life’s Darkest Hour” by teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be released next spring. The publisher says the book will be a “poignant account of personal triumph over unbearable tragedy.” Robin Gaby Fisher is co-writing it.
Roig-DeBellis hurried 15 first-graders into a bathroom upon hearing gunfire at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, saving their lives.
Last year, Roig-DeBellis founded Classes 4 Classes, a nonprofit that advocates teaching children that all lives are connected.

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