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Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists Announced

Sep 4, 2014

Launched in 2006, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States.
Credit Dayton Literary Peace Prize/Anne Rasmussen

Born out of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards are given to authors who use their craft to tell stories of peace, social justice, and global understanding.

In July, organizers announced that author Louise Erdrich, the author of Love Medicine, The Round House, and The Plague of Doves will receive the be this year’s Richard C. Holbrooke Award.  The distinguished achievement award was named in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the ‘95 Peace Accords.

The finalists this year are all notable figures in literature and include, among others: Anthony Marra, Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Alice McDermott—author of Someone, which earned her a spot on this year’s finalist list.

On September 24th organizers will announce a winner and a runner-up in fiction and nonfiction categories. A $10,000 honorarium will be awarded to the winners. The runners-up will receive $1,000. 

Award-winning journalist, Nick Clooney, will host the awards ceremony on Sunday, November 9th.

Here is the full list of finalists and their respective works:

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Crown Publishing Group) : Two doctors in rural Chechnya risk everything to save the life of a child hunted by Russian soldiers in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together.
  • In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt): This sweeping, grand novel set against the tumultuous events that led to the Spanish Civil War offers an indelible portrait of a shattered society.
  • Someone by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): In this delicate narrative about the life of an ordinary woman, McDermott uses universal experiences—sharp pains and unexpected joys, bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—to deftly arouse deep compassion for the lives unfolding all around us.
  • The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy (W.W. Norton & Company): This haunting meditation on family, friendship, and sacrifice charts a deeply felt course from the Nova Scotia coastline to the French trenches during World War I, bridging the distance between past and present, duty and honor, obligation and love.
  • The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (Grove Atlantic): Renowned for his revelatory visions of the Caribbean, Shacochis sets his magnum opus in four countries over a span of fifty years and multiple wars, creating an intricate portrait of the catastrophic events that led up to the war on terror and the U.S. as it is today.
  • Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (Grove Atlantic): Through the character of Wash, a first- generation slave, this haunting first novel explores the often-buried history of slave breeding in the early nineteenth century, offering fresh insights into our continuing racial dilemmas.
  • Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe by Jo Roberts (Dundurn Press, Toronto): Drawing on extensive original interview material, Canadian journalist Jo Roberts vividly examines how their tangled histories of suffering inform Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli lives today, and frame the possibilities for peace in Israel.
  • Here on the Edge: How a Small Group of WWII Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream by Steve McQuiddy (Oregon State University Press): Packed with original research and more than eighty photos, this definitive history tells the story of the artists at an Oregon camp for World War II conscientious objectors, and how they paved the way for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
  • Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler (Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster): Pondering the medical forces that stood in the way of her own parents’ desires for “good deaths,” journalist Katy Butler examines modern medicine's potential, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, to create more suffering than it prevents.
  • Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury): In this universally acclaimed memoir, Ward recounts the separate deaths of five young men – all dear to her – from her small Mississippi community, agonizingly tracing each one back to the long-term effects of racism and economic disadvantage.
  • Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel (Sarah Crichton Book/Farrar, Strauss and Giroux): Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel follows veterans of the infamous Baghdad “surge” after they return to the U.S., creating an indelible, essential portrait of post- deployment life—not just for the soldiers, but for their families, friends, and the professionals trying to undo the damage of war.
  • Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune (W.W. Norton & Company): From Karachi to Tunis, Kabul to Tehran, Bennoune shares the inspiring stories of the Muslim writers, artists, doctors, lawyers, activists, and educators who often risk death to combat the rising tide of religious extremism in their own countries.