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Sharon Rab
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September 18, 2007
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Second Annual Dayton Literary Peace Prize
Eminent Writers to Convene in Dayton, Ohio for International
Literary Award Ceremony October 14, 2007

          Brad Kessler and Mark Kurlansky will join Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement, at The Schuster Center in Dayton, Ohio on October 14 at 5 pm, when they are awarded the second annual Dayton Literary Peace Prizes in fiction and nonfiction.  The Master of Ceremonies will be journalist Nick Clooney, who has brought attention to the crisis in Darfur. Francine Prose, the 2006 fiction award winner for A Changed Man, will present this year’s fiction award.  

        “We hope the books celebrated by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize will be a reminder to the world that the resolution of conflict in all its various forms comes through understanding,” said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.  “Peace is a process and the goal of this prize is to advance peace through literature. We are indebted to artists whose creativity and insight remind us that lasting peace comes from our recognizing a shared humanity.”

        The Dayton Literary Peace Prize was established in 2006 as a legacy of Dayton’s stature as the host of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that brokered a negotiated peace for the Balkans.  The Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States, honors writers whose works focus on the broad theme of peace and whose writing style and subject matter have an enduring literary value.

        Brad Kessler will receive the prize for adult fiction and a $10,000 honorarium for his novel Birds in Fall, which vividly describes reactions of family members to the death of their loved ones in a plane crash in the sea off Nova Scotia. Representing people from all over the globe, the families share a grief that unites them, and in their mourning, and their differing rituals give encouragement and support to each other.  This humane stance shows people acting out of their deep sense of community with the human family.

        Author Statement:  “To win a literary award is exciting enough.  But to be given one wedded to the sentiment and cause of peace is the greatest honor I think any writer or poet could wish for—especially right now in this country in this time of war.  Nothing would seem less effectual in bringing about peace than sitting alone in a room talking to imaginary characters, which is what a novelist does.  For my novel, then, to be recognized as a call for peace is incredibly humbling.”  Brad Kessler

        Judge Citation:  In Birds In Fall Brad Kessler creates the “lens through which we see the world.  Not explicit—implicit.  This humane stance so beautifully rendered, is why we chose Birds In Fall as the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.” Amy Hempel

        Brad Kessler has also written Lick Creek as well as several award-winning children’s books.  His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, The Kenyon Review and numerous other publications.  He has received prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, and was recently nominated by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a Rome Prize.  His first nonfiction work, The Goat Diaries, will be published by Scribner in 2009.

        Mark Kurlansky will receive the prize for nonfiction and a $10,000 honorarium for his book Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea.  Kurlansky discusses nonviolence as a distinct entity, a course of action, rather than a mere state of mind.  It is a sweeping yet concise history that moves from ancient Hindu times to present-day conflicts raging in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Exploring the revolutionary concept of nonviolence in an historical, social and political context, he presents twenty-five provocative lessons that can be used to effect change today.

        Author Statement:  “I’m thrilled to receive this award because there’s no subject closer to my heart.  It’s a valuable opportunity to ask people to rethink history, and I still believe the world can be changed.” Mark Kurlansky

        Judge Citation: “The smoothly elegant prose of Mark Kurlansky’s Nonviolence provides a cogent analysis of the vast sweep of the history of human conflict.  Its thoughtful assertions and conclusions invite both contemplation and debate.”  C. J. Mayo

        Mark Kurlansky has also written Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World;   Salt: A World History;  1968: The Year That Rocked the World; The Basque History of the World; and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell.

        The Runner-Up Award for Fiction will be presented to Lisa Fugard for Skinner’s Drift. Skinner’s Drift is the name of the farm in theLimpopo River Valley near the Botswana border and is home to the father of South African Eva von Rensburg.  She returns from the United Statesto see her dying father and to deal with a dark event in the past.  Fugard dramatizes for us the great difficulties of reconciliation, between family members, among the disparate people of a great African nation, between our species and the rest of nature.

          Author Statement:   “The books that I love, that affect me deeply, are the ones that not only provide a window to the outside world, but also illuminate something within.  This is why words matter, why a book has the power to transform a life.  I am astonished and delighted and honored to have Skinner’s Drift recognized by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize as the Fiction Runner-Up.”  Lisa Fugard

        Lisa Fugard was born in South Africa and came to the United Statesin 1980.  Her short fiction has been published in Story, Outside and literary magazines. She is the daughter of acclaimed playwright Athol Fugard.   Skinner’s Drift is her first novel.

        The Runner-Up Award for Nonfiction will be awarded to Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, authors of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One  School at a Time.  They recount the unlikely journey that led Mortenson from a failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, to successfully building schools in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In 1993 he came off the mountain exhausted and disoriented and stumbled alone, without food, water, or shelter into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.   Out of gratitude, he has returned to the area to build schools for the children living there, especially girls.  This year his schools will educate 24,000 children.    He epitomizes the power of one man with a big idea. 

        Greg Mortenson is the director of the Central Asia Institute.  A resident of Montana, he spends several months each year in Pakistan andAfghanistan.  David Oliver Relin is a contributing editor for Parademagazine and Skiing Magazine.  He has won more than forty national awards for his work as a writer and editor.  

        After evaluation by 23 first readers, the nominations were judged by four final judges:  Alan Cheuse, NPR book reviewer and author;  Amy Hempel, who is well known for her award-winning fiction and nonfiction and has won The Pushcart Prize, The PEN/Hemingway Award, and the Ambassador Book Award for Best Fiction of the Year;  Jane McCafferty, who has written three books of fiction and received an NEA grant, and two Pushcart prizes, and C. M. Mayo, who won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, two Washington Prizes for Best Personal Essay and three Lowell Thomas Awards for travel journalism.

        2006 Award Winners:  Studs Terkel received the Lifetime Achievement Award,  Francine Prose received the award for fiction for A Changed Man, and Stephen Walker received the nonfiction award for Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima.  The fiction runner-up award went to Kevin Haworth for The Discontinuity of Small Things and the nonfiction runner-up award went to Adam Hochschild for Bury the Chains.

        Major contributors to the event include area universities and colleges, local government, businesses, corporations, and generous individual donors.  A limited number of tickets remain for the black tie optional award ceremony.   Tickets start at $150 and include a cocktail hour, formal dinner and presentation ceremonies.  The October 14 ceremony will be held at The Schuster Center, Second & Main Streets,Dayton, Ohio. 

For further information about the prize and the award ceremony, please visit

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Sharon Rab
Sharon Rab
Chair, Dayton Literary Peace Prize


Promoting Peace and Literacy Around the World

Dayton Literary Peace Prize, P. O. Box 461, Wright Brothers Branch, Dayton, OH 45409-0461
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