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Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists Announced

Dayton Literary Peace Prize/Anne Rasmussen
Dayton Literary Peace Prize/Anne Rasmussen

Finalists have been announced for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The awards are given to authors who have written stories about peace, social justice, or global understanding and have been handed out since the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords ended the Bosnian war. 

Peace Prize founder and co-chair Sharon Rabb says six finalists were chosen in both the fiction and nonfiction categories.

“They span all the topics that we see on the news every day, from race to gender issues to war. Not easy books to read all the time, but we have some wonderful candidates for the prize,” she said.

Finalists this year include Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr for his novel “All The Light We Cannot See,” and author Roxane Gay for her book “An Untamed State.”

Nonfiction finalists include Jeff Hobbs for "The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace," which tells the story of a young African-American man who left the ghettos of Newark, New Jersey to attend Yale University, only to be murdered after he graduated. Peace was Hobbs' roommate at college.

Other nonfiction finalists include Bryan Stevenson for "Just Mercy," and Lacy M. Johnson for "The Other Side," which looks at gender roles and violence against women.

Organizers announced last month that author and activist Gloria Steinem will receive this year’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. Holbrooke helped negotiate the ‘95 Dayton Peace Accords. He died in 2010.

This year's winners will be honored Nov. 1 in an awards ceremony that will kick off a series of events commemorating twentieth anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Full list of finalists provided by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize:

  •  "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr: From the highly acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

  •  "An Untamed State" by Roxane Gay: In An Untamed State, Roxane Gay delivers an assured debut with a story about privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce – ultimately showing how redemption can be found in the most unexpected of places.

  •  "Land Of Love and Drowning" by Tiphanie Yanique: Chronicling three generations of the Bradshaw family in the Virgin Islands, Land of Love and Drowning weaves together stories of magic and lust, unknown connections and hidden mysteries, family legacies, and an island world undergoing historical changes.

  •  "The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez: In this novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love, Henríquez seamlessly interweaves the story of two star-crossed lovers and their families with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America, offering a new definition of what it means to be American.


  •  "The Care And Management Of Lies" by Jacqueline Winspear: Food becomes the ultimate expression of love in this World War I tale of blood-soaked trenches, home-front deprivation, and the changing roles of women, while profound and timeless questions arise about conflict, belief, and love.

  •  "The Great Glass Sea" by Josh Weil: This is an epic tragedy of brotherly love set against the dystopian backdrop of an alternative present-day Russia and swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore.

    The 2015 nonfiction finalists:

  •  "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson: From one of the country's most visionary legal thinkers, social justice advocates, and MacArthur "geniuses," this is an intimate and unforgettable narrative journey into the broken American criminal justice system, an exquisitely rendered account of a heroic advocate's fights on behalf of the most powerless people in our society.

  •  "No Man’s Land" by Elizabeth D. Samet: This book offers a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between war and peace, between “over there” and “over here”—between life on the front and life at home.

  •  "The Other Side" by Lacy M. Johnson: This is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover, raising timely questions about gender roles and the epidemic of violence against women.

  •  "The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace" by Jeff Hobbs: Written by his college roommate, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is the brilliant, deeply-researched account of the life of Robert DeShaun Peace, a talented young African-American man who left the ghettos of Newark, New Jersey, on a full scholarship to Yale University, but who was tragically murdered in a basement marijuana lab after he graduated.

  •  "There Was And There Was Not" by Meline Toumani: Frustrated by the all-consuming nature of her close-knit Armenian community’s quest for genocide recognition by Turkey, Toumani moved to Istanbul; this account of her “love thine enemy” experiment probes universal questions: how to belong to a community without conforming to it, how to acknowledge a tragedy without exploiting it, and, most important, how to remember a genocide without perpetuating the kind of hatred that makes such atrocities possible in the first place.

  •  "Who We Be" by Jeff Chang: This book explores the changing (and unchanging) ways that the U.S. has viewed race over the past half-century, asking whether or not in the eras of “multicultural” and “post-racial” cultures if we really see each other more clearly. 

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.