Recognizing the power of literature to promote peace and reconciliation, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2018 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, justice, and global understanding. This year’s winners will be honored at a gala ceremony in Dayton on October 28.
“Many of this year’s finalists explore the concept of ‘home’ at a time when more and more people find themselves forced to leave theirs, whether because of war, poverty, political turmoil, or dreams of new opportunities,” said Sharon Rab, Chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “These books help the reader cultivate their ability to understand and empathize with people from very different backgrounds than their own – an ability that is becoming increasingly vital in today’s turbulent world.”
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead): An astonishingly timely love story that brilliantly imagines the forces that transform ordinary people into refugees and the impossible choices that follow.
- Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (New Directions): A scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a Berlin man who finds he has more in common with his city’s African refugees than he realizes.
- Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): A heartbreaking story that follows three generations of a Palestinian family and asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner): A family makes the trip from their Gulf Coast town to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, testing the strength of their emotional bonds and the pull of a collective history.
- Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař (Little, Brown): Raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procházka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. A dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him the chance at heroism he’s always dreamed of — and a way to atone for his father’s sins as a Communist informer.
The 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize nonfiction finalists are:
- Enduring Vietnam by James Wright (St. Martin’s Press): A recounting of the experiences of the young Americans who fought in Vietnam and of the families who mourned those who did not return.
- Ghost of the Innocent Man by Benjamin Rachlin (Little, Brown): This gripping account of one man’s long road to freedom provides a picture of wrongful conviction and of the opportunity for meaningful reform, forever altering how we understand our criminal justice system.
- Lolas’ House by M. Erdina Galang (Northwestern U. Press): The stories of sixteen Filipino “comfort women” are told in unprecedented detail in what is not only testimony and documentation, but a book of witness, of survival, and of the female body.
- Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo (Random House): In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of Patrick Browning, a teenaged student from one of the poorest counties in the U.S., and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.
- The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe (Scribner): Helen Thorpe’s intensive, year-long reporting puts a human face on the U.S. refugee population through an intimate look at the lives of 22 teenagers enrolled in a beginner-level English Language Acquisition class at South High School in Denver, Colorado.
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World PRH): “Biting cultural and political analysis… reflects on race, Barack Obama’s presidency and its jarring aftermath, and [Coates’s] own evolution as a writer in eight stunningly incisive essays.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 18.
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