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The Deborah Pease Prize

October 1, 2018

Michael Silverblatt to receive the inaugural Deborah Pease Prize from A Public Space

Silverblatt will be honored at A Public Space's benefit on December 6

A Public Space is pleased to announce that Michael Silverblatt, host of Bookworm on KCRW in Los Angeles, is the inaugural recipient of the Deborah Pease Prize. Silverblatt will be honored at A Public Space’s first-ever benefit party, to be held on December 6 in New York City.

Named in honor of A Public Space’s founding benefactor, Deborah Pease (1943-2014), the prize is awarded to a figure who has advanced the art of literature. As the host and guiding spirit of Bookworm, the country’s premier literary talk show, Michael Silverblatt has reinvented the art of literary conversation.

“Silverblatt is a passionate reader,” Edmund White said, describing the experience of a Bookworm interview: “He’s read one’s entire oeuvre and remembers it better than one does oneself… With him be warned: you might have the unfamiliar experience of thinking new thoughts, of making original connections, of seeing your own writing from a fresh perspective.”

A New York City native, Silverblatt graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he came under the influence of such cutting-edge author-teachers as Donald Barthelme and John Barth. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s, working in motion-picture public relations and script development—until a chance encounter at a dinner party and a conversation about Russian literature with Ruth Seymour, the general manager of KCRW, led to the idea of a radio show.

Since the program debuted in 1989, Silverblatt has introduced listeners to new and emerging authors along with writers of international renown, including Ann Beattie, Matthea Harvey, Yiyun Li, Mario Vargas Llosa, Suzan-Lori Parks, Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, Zadie Smith, and Edmund White among many others.

“We are delighted to name Michael Silverblatt as the first recipient of the Deborah Pease Prize,” said Charles Buice, board president of A Public Space, “and with this prize to keep her name and her memory as a living part of all that is to come for the magazine, our books, and other endeavors.”

“Deborah’s spirit continues to be part of the essence of A Public Space,” editor Brigid Hughes noted. “She was an extraordinary writer and patron of the arts—her often-anonymous support has had an enduring impact on our literary community. And as a reader, she was generous, sensitive to the world, and insightful. Michael Silverblatt embodies the spirit of this prize as an impassioned and curious reader who elevates and champions the literary arts.”

The award will be presented to Michael Silverblatt at A Public Space’s benefit on December 6 at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn. A historic landmark and gathering place, modeled after the Ca' d’Oro in Venice, the Montauk Club was recently the site for a film shoot for the hit television series Billions. The honorary committee includes Edmund White, Mengmeng Wang, Marilynne Robinson, Charles McGrath, Ayana Mathis, Yiyun Li, Leslie Jamison, and Andrea Glimcher. Lit Hub is a gold sponsor of the event, which will feature a full open bar with specialty cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres, and more.

Tickets to the event, offered at Friend, Benefactor, and Patron levels, are on sale now; and offer the opportunity to underwrite the vital programs of A Public Space.

A Public Space is the nonprofit and independent home of an award-winning literary and arts magazine; A Public Space Books; fellowships; and an academy. Under the direction of Brigid Hughes and the dedicated editorial staff, it has been our mission to seek out overlooked and unclassifiable work, and to publish writing from beyond established confines.

For additional information, including on general program ad sales and sponsorships at the gold level and above, please contact marketing and development director Lauren Cerand ( or (917) 533-0103.

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