The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards – more than a dozen prizes honoring writers of various genres — were announced on Wednesday morning, and include Frank Bidart ("a poet of roiling intensity, a poet singularly unafraid of excess") and James Wolcott (a critic of "panoramic and encyclopedic variety"). Other winners include Ron Childress' And West Is West, which won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and Linda Leavell's Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, which won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. The winner of the biggest prize, the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, will be announced at the awards ceremony in September; the finalists are Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Ian Stansel's Everybody's Irish, Shawn Vestal's Godforsaken Idaho, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh's Brief Encounters With the Enemy and Hanya Yanagihara's The People in the Trees.
- Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was awarded almost $2 million in a defamation suit against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote the 2012 book American Sniper and who died last year. NPR's Alan Greenblatt reports: "Kyle wrote that in 2006 he had decked Ventura in a bar in California, after Ventura said that he hated America and that Navy SEALs 'deserve to lose a few.' Ventura denied having said any such thing and said the account had hurt his career, as well as his standing among the community of SEALs. Kyle died last year, but Ventura sued his estate."
- Amazon said Tuesday that one of its key goals in its ongoing dispute with publisher Hachette Book Group is lower e-book prices. For months, Amazon has delayed shipments and removed pre-order buttons for some Hachette titles as a negotiating tactic. In a post, the online retailer wrote that it hopes to persuade the publisher to price most e-books to $9.99 (many are currently priced at $12.99 or $14.99) and that it would be willing to continue receiving 30 percent of digital book revenue. Amazon wrote: "With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books." Amazon said that according to its research, cheaper e-books would sell more copies and ultimately raise revenue. The company added that it also hopes Hachette will share a bigger portion of digital book revenue with authors, "but ultimately that is not our call." Hachette did not respond to request for comment.
- Sen. Rand Paul will come out with a book in 2015, he told Louisville's Courier-Journal newspaper. The Kentucky Republican said that much of the book "is about policy and about my approach to a variety of issues, and maybe the uniqueness of that approach." He also said that the timing — right before the presidential election — was "just coincidence, probably just coincidence, yeah."
- Tiphanie Yanique talks about her novel Land of Love and Drowning, Caribbean literature and the legacy of Jean Rhys in an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books: "There's a long, unfortunate tradition in literature set in the Caribbean, written by Americans or Europeans, of crazy women. Either women from the Caribbean are crazy, or women go to the Caribbean and end up crazy."
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