Recognizing the power of literature to promote peace and reconciliation, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction and nonfiction.
Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The Prize celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding. This year’s winners will be honored at a gala ceremony hosted by award-winning journalist Nick Clooney in Dayton on November 20th to be held at the Schuster Center.
Organizers announced in August that novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping, Gilead) will be the recipient of the 2016 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords.
• A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition — seek fame and fortune in New York city in this hymn to brotherly bonds. A masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into and those that we make for ourselves.
• Delicious Foods by James Hannaham: Held captive on a mysterious farm and under the sway of an overpowering addiction, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son. Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses his characters with grace and humor while wrestling with timeless questions of forgiveness, redemption, and the will to survive.
• Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman: A young Afghan orphan is forced to join a US-funded militia in order to save his brother, who is hospitalized after an attack on their village, in this morally complex debut novel about the harrowing, intractable nature of war and the sacrifices we make for love.
• Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian: Drawing on her own family history, Ohanesian pulls back the curtain on a devastating chapter of the Armenian Holocaust, moving between the 1990s and the 1915 Ottoman Empire in this remarkable debut novel about war and recovery, crimes and reparations.
• The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: This profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel tells the story of a man of two minds whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. Both gripping spy yarn and astute exploration of extreme politics, The Sympathizer examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
• Youngblood by Matt Gallagher: During the final dark days of the War in Iraq, newly minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles with the preparations for withdrawal from the country, especially the alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands.
The 2016 nonfiction finalists are
• Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Masterfully weaving together lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally-charged reportage, Coates shares the story of his awakening to the truth about history and his place in the world, in the process mapping a winding path from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of this country, this world, and how we can all get free.
• Find Me Unafraid by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner: An African man and an American woman share their love story and recount their efforts to empower young people – including founding the first tuition-free school for girls – in Odede’s hometown of Kibera, the largest slum in Africa.
• Nagasaki by Susan Southard: Narrative journalist Southard spent over a decade interviewing survivors, historians, physicians, psychologists, and archivists to take readers from the morning the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki to the modern-day city, offering an intimate, immediate account of one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.
• Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood: Using the framework of the contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative look at Marshall’s life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped the early civil rights movement.
• The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew: After learning that his father, an accomplished but distant aboriginal Canadian, has cancer, his son spends a year reconnecting with him. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.
• The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell: This dramatic, never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved WWII Texas internment camp reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.
A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on October 11. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $2,500. Finalists will be reviewed by a judging panel of prominent writers including Alexander Chee (Edinburgh, Queen of the Night), Christine Schutt (Florida, All Souls), Ruben Martinez (Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape, Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail), and Evelyn McDonnell (Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop and Rap, Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways).
To be eligible for the 2016 awards, English-language books must be published or translated into English in 2015 and address the theme of peace on a variety of levels, such as between individuals, among families and communities, or between nations, religions, or ethnic groups.