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Book critics to give award for best debut work

NEW YORK (AP) — A new literary prize has been established in honor of one of the country's most passionate book critics.

The National Book Critics Circle announced Wednesday that starting in 2014 the John Leonard Award will be given for the year's best debut book. Leonard, who died in 2008, was known for championing authors early in their careers. Among those he supported: Nobel laureate Toni Morrision and "Woman Warrior" writer Maxine Hong Kingston. Leonard wrote for The New York Times, The Nation and other publications.

The book critics circle, which already gives out prizes for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and criticism, was founded in 1974. It has around 500 members. Leonard himself was given a lifetime achievement award by the critics circle in 2006.