Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

Geraldine Brooks

“This is a special honor. A writer is always thrilled to have her work recognized. But this prize has a particular meaning to me, because I covered the fighting in the Balkans as a journalist and I know what peace, even an imperfect peace, can mean to a civilian population that has been beseiged and violated by years of war. In these times, particularly, it is good to be reminded of what was achieved at Dayton. Negotiators and diplomats are rarely lionized as military heros are, and that’s a great pity. As Dayton shows, it is at the table, rather than on the battle field, that wars may be brought to an end.”

— Geraldine Brooks                        

Geraldine_Brooks-2010_lifetime_achievement_award_winner
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Bio

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her first novel, Year of Wonders, is an international bestseller, and People of the Book is a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.

Brooks married author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons– Nathaniel and Bizuayehu–and two dogs. They divide their time between homes in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and Sydney, Australia.

Read the full press release

Read a March 2007 Interview with Geraldine Brooks

 

Book Excerpt

 

It was too soon for a response: from the army, from the victims, even from the families. Everything seemed to be in slow motion of collision. There seemed to be no afternoon and evening calls to prayer from the small mosque at one end of the main street. If villagers were going to prayer they moved noiselessly through the streets behind closed doors.

In cold smoky kitchens there were no questions to be asked. Hands were held, faces touched during long silences. Men seemed absent, the sound of crying usually that of a female relative, not the victim, but someone still able to make sound. Cold stones were settling into the cores of those silent women, sealing off the soft part of them that it would no longer be able to reach. Some of them were curled up, shivering, regardless of how many blankets had been laid over them to try to smother what had happened. Some squatted on their haunches, rocking back and forth. Most of those I met had not even washed since the attacks, the salty shock of their abuse still smeared on bruised skin and torn clothes.

Citation

Fiction is a Wonderful Place to Probe the Human Heart


For Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, her visit to Dayton on Nov. 7 will be a homecoming. In the early 1980s she was a Cleveland-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.


“I used to spend quite a bit of time in Dayton,” she says. “One of my companies that I covered was Dayton Power and Light and they were in the news at that time because of the Zimmer Nuclear Power Plant.”


She was also dating her soon-to-be-husband, author Tony Horwitz, who had a job in Ft. Wayne. “We did meet up for an important birthday in Dayton and had a wonderful meal.”


Brooks has returned to Dayton several times since the ‘80s on a number of book tours. “Dayton is a wonderful book town,” she says. “I know I’m not alone among authors who love to go there on book tours because the audiences are so well read.”


With The Wall Street Journal, Brooks went on to cover crises in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.


These days, the Sydney, Australia native, her husband of 26 years, and their two sons live on Martha’s Vineyard; they also have a home in Sydney.


Brooks, best known for her works of historical fiction, is the recipient of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.


Her journey from foreign correspondent to novelist came when she was 38 years old and reporting in Africa.

“I was in the slammer in a town in Nigeria and I didn’t know how long I was going to be kept in detention,” she says. “And I had one of those oops-I-forgot-to-get-pregnant-moments. When they released me after only three days, I came home and greeted my husband with renewed enthusiasm and our son was born the following year.”


She didn’t want to travel the world on long, open-ended assignments anymore. A history buff, she first turned to non-fiction writing. Brooks had always been intrigued by the story of a village in England during the 1660s whose inhabitants decided to quarantine themselves when the Bubonic Plague arrived from London rather than flee and spread the disease.


“I thought that was such a remarkable self-sacrificing decision and a remarkable example of a town coming to a difficult consensus,” she says.


But when Brooks dug in to explore that story, she found numerous holes in the historical record. The only way to do it, she says, was through fiction. The result was Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague in 2001.


Her next historical novel, March, plunged readers into the Civil War. She plucked her protagonist, March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. March won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.


“I just love to find these stories in the past where there are missing pieces in the record that you have to use your imagination to fill.”


Brooks says she thinks the themes fiction deals with can have a role toward advancing peace.


“There’s a wonderful anthology by my fellow countryman Peter Singer, who’s now an ethicist at Princeton University, called The Moral of the Story,” she says. “It looks at excerpts from works in which ethical questions are explored. I think that fiction is a wonderful place to really take the probe into the human heart and why we behave as we do, ethically and unethically.”


As a girl, Brooks was raised Catholic; yet she was obsessed with the history of the Jewish people.


“My mother was from an Irish-Catholic family and I went to Catholic school with the big hats and gloves and school uniforms,” she says. “But my father wasn’t a religious man.


His religion, if you like, was leftist politics. And he had served in what was then Palestine during World War II.”


Enthralled with the romance of the Zionist pioneers and the kibbutz movement, her father became an ardent socialist Zionist. During the Six-Day War, the family followed the news closely and looked at the maps in the newspapers.


“He’d been to some of the kibbutzim that were being shelled,” she says. “And he talked about the children’s houses and the shelters. And so that gripped my childish imagination.”


Brooks says she read everything she could get her hands on about Jewish history. In high school, her senior project was on the Suez crisis.


“When I was in graduate school, I met Tony Horwitz and at that point, I have to admit that I didn’t know Horwitz was a Jewish name,” she says. “I fell in love with him and later on found out that he was indeed Jewish. And when we decided to get married, there was no way I wanted to be the end of that line of history. And so I decided that I would convert to the faith so that our kids could be Jewish.”


Judaism influenced the topic of her most recent novel, People of the Book. Brooks says she was intrigued by the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, created in 14th-century Spain and saved over the centuries by “various unlikely rescuers, some of whom were Muslim and one of whom was Catholic, and the story of why these people risked their lives in some cases to save a Jewish book.”


The illuminated Haggadah survived the four-year siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. Today, it is on permanent display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


“It’s a tremendous honor for me to get this award and tremendously meaningful because when I was a journalist, I covered the conflict in the Balkans,” Brooks says. “What happened in Dayton — everybody says, well it’s not a perfect peace. Well, when is peace ever perfect? But I know from being there during the war and after the war that what happened in Dayton achieved so much on the ground in terms of the way people are able to go about their lives.”


— Interviewed by Marshall Weiss,

The Dayton Jewish Observer

 

Book Excerpt

 

It was too soon for a response: from the army, from the victims, even from the families. Everything seemed to be in slow motion of collision. There seemed to be no afternoon and evening calls to prayer from the small mosque at one end of the main street. If villagers were going to prayer they moved noiselessly through the streets behind closed doors.

In cold smoky kitchens there were no questions to be asked. Hands were held, faces touched during long silences. Men seemed absent, the sound of crying usually that of a female relative, not the victim, but someone still able to make sound. Cold stones were settling into the cores of those silent women, sealing off the soft part of them that it would no longer be able to reach. Some of them were curled up, shivering, regardless of how many blankets had been laid over them to try to smother what had happened. Some squatted on their haunches, rocking back and forth. Most of those I met had not even washed since the attacks, the salty shock of their abuse still smeared on bruised skin and torn clothes.

Citation

Fiction is a Wonderful Place to Probe the Human Heart

For Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, her visit to Dayton on Nov. 7 will be a homecoming. In the early 1980s she was a Cleveland-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

“I used to spend quite a bit of time in Dayton,” she says. “One of my companies that I covered was Dayton Power and Light and they were in the news at that time because of the Zimmer Nuclear Power Plant.”

She was also dating her soon-to-be-husband, author Tony Horwitz, who had a job in Ft. Wayne. “We did meet up for an important birthday in Dayton and had a wonderful meal.”

Brooks has returned to Dayton several times since the ‘80s on a number of book tours. “Dayton is a wonderful book town,” she says. “I know I’m not alone among authors who love to go there on book tours because the audiences are so well read.”

With The Wall Street Journal, Brooks went on to cover crises in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

These days, the Sydney, Australia native, her husband of 26 years, and their two sons live on Martha’s Vineyard; they also have a home in Sydney.

Brooks, best known for her works of historical fiction, is the recipient of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her journey from foreign correspondent to novelist came when she was 38 years old and reporting in Africa.

“I was in the slammer in a town in Nigeria and I didn’t know how long I was going to be kept in detention,” she says. “And I had one of those oops-I-forgot-to-get-pregnant-moments. When they released me after only three days, I came home and greeted my husband with renewed enthusiasm and our son was born the following year.”

She didn’t want to travel the world on long, open-ended assignments anymore. A history buff, she first turned to non-fiction writing. Brooks had always been intrigued by the story of a village in England during the 1660s whose inhabitants decided to quarantine themselves when the Bubonic Plague arrived from London rather than flee and spread the disease.

“I thought that was such a remarkable self-sacrificing decision and a remarkable example of a town coming to a difficult consensus,” she says.

But when Brooks dug in to explore that story, she found numerous holes in the historical record. The only way to do it, she says, was through fiction. The result was Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague in 2001.

Her next historical novel, March, plunged readers into the Civil War. She plucked her protagonist, March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. March won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize.

“I just love to find these stories in the past where there are missing pieces in the record that you have to use your imagination to fill.”

Brooks says she thinks the themes fiction deals with can have a role toward advancing peace.

“There’s a wonderful anthology by my fellow countryman Peter Singer, who’s now an ethicist at Princeton University, called The Moral of the Story,” she says. “It looks at excerpts from works in which ethical questions are explored. I think that fiction is a wonderful place to really take the probe into the human heart and why we behave as we do, ethically and unethically.”

As a girl, Brooks was raised Catholic; yet she was obsessed with the history of the Jewish people.

“My mother was from an Irish-Catholic family and I went to Catholic school with the big hats and gloves and school uniforms,” she says. “But my father wasn’t a religious man.

His religion, if you like, was leftist politics. And he had served in what was then Palestine during World War II.”

Enthralled with the romance of the Zionist pioneers and the kibbutz movement, her father became an ardent socialist Zionist. During the Six-Day War, the family followed the news closely and looked at the maps in the newspapers.

“He’d been to some of the kibbutzim that were being shelled,” she says. “And he talked about the children’s houses and the shelters. And so that gripped my childish imagination.”

Brooks says she read everything she could get her hands on about Jewish history. In high school, her senior project was on the Suez crisis.

“When I was in graduate school, I met Tony Horwitz and at that point, I have to admit that I didn’t know Horwitz was a Jewish name,” she says. “I fell in love with him and later on found out that he was indeed Jewish. And when we decided to get married, there was no way I wanted to be the end of that line of history. And so I decided that I would convert to the faith so that our kids could be Jewish.”

Judaism influenced the topic of her most recent novel, People of the Book. Brooks says she was intrigued by the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, created in 14th-century Spain and saved over the centuries by “various unlikely rescuers, some of whom were Muslim and one of whom was Catholic, and the story of why these people risked their lives in some cases to save a Jewish book.”

The illuminated Haggadah survived the four-year siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. Today, it is on permanent display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“It’s a tremendous honor for me to get this award and tremendously meaningful because when I was a journalist, I covered the conflict in the Balkans,” Brooks says. “What happened in Dayton — everybody says, well it’s not a perfect peace. Well, when is peace ever perfect? But I know from being there during the war and after the war that what happened in Dayton achieved so much on the ground in terms of the way people are able to go about their lives.”

— Interviewed by Marshall Weiss,
The Dayton Jewish Observer

2010 Fiction Winner

Marlon James - The Book of Night Women

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“It can be lonely, believing that books can still change how we think. So thank goodness for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation; for reminding us that the book is still our most eloquent tool to speak truth to power, and to bear witness to the good and not so good in human nature. It was an honour enough to be nominated for this great and necessary award, and I am humbled that I was chosen from such deeply impressive company.”

— Marlon James                        

Bio

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil (Akashic Books, 2005) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. The novel was published in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy in 2008. A new novel, The Book of Night Women was published by Riverhead Books, in 2009.

He graduated from The University of the West Indies in 1991 with a B.A in Literature, and Wilkes University in 2006 with an M.A. in Creative Writing. His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Iron Balloons(2006), Bronx Noir (2007) and Silent Voices (2007). His non-fiction has appeared in the Caribbean Review of Books.

He has taught at the Calabash international Literary Festival Workshop in Kingston Jamaica for two years. More recently he has taught at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City and was a judge for the PEN Beyond Margins Award. Presently a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Macalester College, St. Paul, he sets foot down in Jamaica, New York City and The Twin Cities so is hesitant to say he lives anywhere.

Citation

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James is a harrowing, unforgettable journey into the history of slavery in Jamaica in the eighteenth century, told from the point of view of Lilith, half-black and half-white. Both poet and reporter, the author has conceived of the entire story in patois as he traces the stages of a slave uprising, a feat that pays off: Readers fall easily into the slipstream of the color and cadence, and the result is a seamless marvel of artistry. This is work of the most supreme literary quality, daring to transform language into such an original realm that readers come away haunted, short of breath, and staggered with the sort of visceral impact that reminds us why we read: Not merely to understand other lives or worlds, but to feel them.

Though challenging, often obscene, and devastatingly graphic in places, and though James truly earns the overused phrase “unflinching gaze,” the book’s handling of violence shies away from being leering or gratuitous, even as we sense that the author is duty-bound to report the truth of oppression as it historically occurred. This is fiction’s power: To conjure, through character and story, not just the details of human horrors but also how their truth plays out upon the skin, against the backdrop of the world, and upon the hidden emotions of us all. There’s no hiding in any era, even one removed from the time being scrutinized.

One of the most remarkable qualities here is the careful layering of all classes and types. It will occur to readers that they have perhaps never read a book about slavery in which the slaves themselves are portrayed as prone to jealousy, nastiness, vulgarity, and ruthlessness: as human beings normally can be, especially when trapped in a system that twists the human spirit. Lilith, our heroine, is not always likable, and the slaves elevated to the foreman-like role of being “Johnny-jumpers” add complications to any desire to classify the portraits easily. We witness the self-interest of the maroons and Robert Quinn’s frustrations as an Irishman considered lower-class; we flinch, though not completely devoid of sympathy, at selfish Miss Isobel’s mad attempts to leap over the gulf toward what she views as “the other side.”

Lilith and Robert’s love story creates the book’s tumultuous heart; his audacious decision to desire Lilith, fueled in part by his own status as an outsider, is tense from start to finish and, in addition to blending the poetry in the service of vivid story-telling power and sturdy pacing, we arrive at the cry for peace that makes the book worthy of this award: We’re given examples of how ordinary people, in extraordinarily vicious circumstances, can reach out, can stop the torrential demands of old hatred and old history. Though it’s chilling—and believable—that Quinn, outside the house, disavows Lilith to the point of allowing her to be whipped to near death, the gift of his love in private surely plays a role in her decision, when riots engulf Jamaica, to see her white father not as cruel and arrogant but as a man frightened of death, and she stays to defend him. Quinn will lose his life, due to the forces unleashed, but he has, despite his sins, put forth a measure of redemptive, healing care into an ill world.

Though the novel is harsh, it is worth recalling that it is based upon the implacably awful truths of the history of the treatment of slaves. There is no way to make this material less than the ghastly nightmare that it is. If we need to be reminded of who we have been, we also can take some solace in discovering that the human spirit can fight back even in the most poisonous of circumstances. This is a definition of courage, and the book paints a stunning and detailed map of how we divide ourselves from one another (not merely in slavery, but in any group, any social network) and how we might work our ways through, and across, and beyond.

— Katherine Vaz
2010 finalist judge

Book Excerpt


She not black, she mulatto. Mulatto, mulatto, mulatto. Maybe she be family to both and to hurt white man just as bad as hurting black man…..Maybe if she start to think that she not black or white, then she won’t have to care about neither man’s affairs. Maybe if she don’t care what other people think she be and start think about what she think she be, maybe she can rise over backra and nigger business, since neither ever mean her any good. Since the blood that run through her both black and white, maybe she be her own thing. But what thing she be?

Special Features

  • Listen to a 53-minute interview with Marlon James about his 2014 book, A Brief History of Seven Killings, conducted by Vick Mickunas for the “Book Nook” program on WYSO, Public Radio for the Miami Valley, Yellow Springs, Ohio. (Jan. 22, 2015)
  • Listen to a 30-minute interview with Marlon James conducted by Vick Mickunas for the “Book Nook” program on WYSO, Public Radio for the Miami Valley, Yellow Springs, Ohio. (Oct. 22, 2010)
  • Listen to a 5-minute interview with Marlon James conducted by Euan Kerr of Minnesota Public Radio. (Feb. 26, 2009)

2010 Fiction Runner-up

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The Thing Around Your Neck

“We live in a world where we so often quote figures of the number of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Congo, until they become just that—figures.  Each time I read these news articles, I find myself thinking, “What do they dream about in Congo?”  “How do they fall in love in Afghanistan?” “How do they solve family quarrels in Iraq?” “What do they like to eat?”

Of course we must know about the dead and the dying.  And of course these facts and figures are essential.  But they must, they should, coexist with human stories.  We should know how people die, but we should also know how they live.”  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Commonwealth Lecture.”

— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
Commonwealth Lecuture

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Bio

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria, in 1977 and grew up in the town of Nsukka. She studied medicine at the University of nigeria before monving to the United States. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and went on to receive her Masters in Creative Wiring from Johns Hopkins and, in 2008, her Masters in African Studies from Yale. She was a 2005-2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

Adichie’s work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories, 2003; The New Yorker; Granata, the Financial Times; and Zoetrope. Her novel Half of a Yellow Sun, published by Knopf in 2006, won the Orange Broadband Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; it was a New York Times Notable Book and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best book of the Year. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, published in 2003, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Chimamanda Adichie’s latest book is a collection of short stories titled The Thing Around Your Neck, published in the U.S. by Knopf.

A recipient of a 2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.


Book Excerpt


It was too soon for a response: from the army, from the victims, even from the families. Everything seemed to be in slow motion of collision. There seemed to be no afternoon and evening calls to prayer from the small mosque at one end of the main street. If villagers were going to prayer they moved noiselessly through the streets behind closed doors.

In cold smoky kitchens there were no questions to be asked. Hands were held, faces touched during long silences. Men seemed absent, the sound of crying usually that of a female relative, not the victim, but someone still able to make sound. Cold stones were settling into the cores of those silent women, sealing off the soft part of them that it would no longer be able to reach. Some of them were curled up, shivering, regardless of how many blankets had been laid over them to try to smother what had happened. Some squatted on their haunches, rocking back and forth. Most of those I met had not even washed since the attacks, the salty shock of their abuse still smeared on bruised skin and torn clothes.

Citation

In this stunning collection of short stories Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes of the difficulties Africans encounter living abroad or in their own homeland. She weaves the complicated strands of the immigrant experience with an elegant, calm spareness. She tells of homeland violence with a riveting understatement.

In the U.S. an African woman takes a job as a day nanny for an upwardly mobile couple: a white Jewish man who works long hours and an African-American woman, an artist who mysteriously remains in the basement.

In Nigeria an Igbo Christian medical student finds herself hiding with an uneducated Muslim woman from rioting Muslims who are taking machetes to the Christians.

In these and other stories, Adichie layers her storytelling with a multi-colored cultural fabric. Without explaining, without didacticism, she gives the readers new insight into a world they’re quite familiar with and familiarizes them with a foreign world fraught with historically intricate troubles. Throughout the widely varied tales, her protagonists, whether victims themselves, are called upon to behave humanely; this is the book’s exemplary achievement in the furthering of peace. For such vision and literary achievement, The Thing Around Your Neck is awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize runner-up prize.

— Nancy Zafris
2010 finalist judge

TEDGlobal 2009 - The Danger of a Single Story

2010 Nonfiction Winner

Dave Eggers - Zeitoun

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“This honor means the world to me, and I share this with the Zeitoun family, who had faith in me to tell their story. This award comes at an interesting moment, when Muslims in America are experiencing a new wave of xenophobia and unfounded suspicion. Meanwhile, the Zeitouns have been speaking at colleges, at temples and churches, and everywhere they go people of all faiths tell them that they’re the all-American family, and each appearance ends in mutual admiration and respect. Which means, ultimately, that listening to each other, getting to know the people behind the headlines, the shrill debates, means everything. If we begin to listen to each other, to listen before speaking — before judging —then we go a long way toward a more empathetic and peaceful world.”

— Dave Eggers 

Bio

Dave Eggers is the author of seven books. His book What Is the What? was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of France’s Prix Médicis étranger. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan.

Mr. Eggers’s most recent book, Zeitoun, was awarded the American Book Award, LA Times Book Award, Northern California Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Distinguished Honor, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Media Award. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine (The Believer), and Wholphin, a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries.

In 2002, with Ninive Calegari, he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston, and D.C. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world.

Citation

Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in the late summer of 2005, causing what is generally described as the worst natural disaster in American history. But that phrase was never quite accurate—not because the disaster wasn’t “the worst,” but because it wasn’t entirely natural. Katrina and its aftermath gave rise to some of the finest journalistic investigation and writing that the country has seen in decades. We now understand the extent to which human error left New Orleans vulnerable in the first place. We know that the response to the disaster by the federal and state authorities was both inadequate and, where it existed at all, deeply flawed. And we know that the tragedy in New Orleans was heightened by the behavior of many individuals acting alone—some of it criminal, some of it ignorant, some of it merely selfish, and some of it backed by the power of a badge.

But we also know that the catastrophe gave us moments of redemptive power and enduring grace — moments in which individuals somehow transcended the tragedy of their circumstances and stood squarely for the most fundamental human values. In his book Zeitoun, Dave Eggers tells the story of one such man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born contractor who happens to be Muslim, and who lives in New Orleans to this day with his American-born wife, Kathy, and his five children. The arc of the story is, in a sense, simple. As Katrina hit and the waters began to rise, Zeitoun’s family was evacuated to safety. He himself remained behind to help in any way he could — because he felt he simply must. In an old canoe, Zeitoun paddled around the neighborhood. He saved an old woman who had been in the water for an entire day. He paddled on, saving other people. To still others he brought supplies of food and water. And then, suddenly, without warning, in a house he himself owned, he was arrested by a SWAT team and held incommunicado on suspicion of being a looter, perhaps even a terrorist. Months elapse before Zeitoun is released, and before his family reunited.

So: a simple arc. But the story is by no means simple. Or to put it another way, it is as simple as any profound exploration of human character and motivation; as simple as any study of human courage; as simple as any investigation of an ordinary individual confronted with forces, natural and man-made, that threaten to turn his world upside down. Eggers unfolds the story in prose that is calm, clean, utterly restrained — the book offers a master class in creative nonfiction, and a reminder that the highest art is achieved when the artistry seems to disappear. Zeitoun is that rare thing, a book that is destined to be both loved and taught, and a book with the potential to being change to our lives, one stroke of the paddle at a time.

– Cullen Murphy, 2010 finalist judge
Editor at Large of Vanity Fair
2008 Nonfiction runner-up for Are We Rome?


Book Excerpt


Some nights Zeitoun struggles to sleep. Some nights he thinks of the faces, the people who arrested him, who jailed him, who shuttled him between cages like an animal, who transported him like luggage. He thinks of the people who could not see him as a neighbor, as a countryman, as a human.

Every time a crime was committed by a Muslim, that person’s faith was mentioned, regardless of its relevance. When a crime is committed by a Christian, do they mention his religion? … When a crime is committed by a black man, it’s mentioned in the first breath: ‘An African American man was arrested today…’ But what about German Americans? Anglo Americans? A white man robs a convenience store and do we hear he’s of Scottish descent? In no other instance is the ancestry mentioned.

Note

Funds from the sale of Zeitoun go to the Zeitoun Foundation, which was established by the Zeitoun family, Dave Eggers, and McSweeney’smagazine. The foundation is dedicated to “the continued rebuilding and social advancement of New Orleans” and to the promotion of understanding “between people of disparate faiths around the world, with a concentration on relations between America and the Muslim world.

2010 Nonfiction Runner-up

Justine Hardy - In the Valley of Mist

“It has given me such pleasure learning about how the Dayton Literary Peace Prize spreads the idea of peace through the written word. I could not be in more agreement with what you are doing, and it is so in tune with what we are trying to achieve with our work in Kashmir. It had been an honour to be a nominee, and now to be runner-up … well, the smile at this end is huge. It is also a great tribute to the courageous people I am working with in Kashmir. We all thank you.”

— Justine Hardy             

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Bio

Justine Hardy has been a journalist for twenty-one years, many of those spent covering South Asia. She is the author of five books ranging in subject from war to Hindi film: The Ochre Border, 1995, was about the reopening of the Tibetan frontier-lands. Her second Scoop-Wallah, 1999, was the story of her time on an Indian newspaper in Delhi. It was short-listed for the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award 2000 and serialised on BBC Radio 4. Goat: A Story of Kashmir and Notting Hill, 2000, was an inside look at life in Kashmir and Notting Hill, two places drawn together by the latter’s obsession with the fine pashmina weave of the Kashmir Valley. This was also serialised on BBC Radio 4. Bollywood Boy, 2002, was a bestseller in which the Hindi film industry was the vehicle for a closer look at the obsession with fame as it crept West to East, as well as a closer look at the darker side of an industry pumping out high-octane escapism for an audience of over a billion. The Wonder House, 2005, is a novel set in Kashmir against the background of the conflict, and based on Justine’s experience of frontline coverage, time spent in militant training camps, and amongst the extremists. It was short-listed for the Author’s Club best first novel in 2006. Her books have been translated into nine languages including Hindi and Serbian.

Justine writes for The Financial Times. She also freelances for The Times, various Condé Nast magazines such as Vanity Fair and Traveler, as well as other publications.

As a documentary maker and presenter she started at Channel 4 in 1996 on BAFTA-nominated series Urban Jungle. She has worked on several BBC strands in India for both BBC and BBC World. Justine was a presenter on Travel TV for four years. Her most recent work was as a co-presenter with Jerry Hall on a series about Eastern philosophy’s journey West for BBC.

Justine is a director of the NGO in India that she wrote about in Goat. Development Research and Action Group sets up schools in slum areas of Delhi that have been over-looked by the bigger international agencies, usually because of the problems of slum politics. After the earthquake in Kashmir in October 2005 Justine was involved in setting up an NGO with some Kashmiri friends in The Valley. The Kashmir Welfare Trust is building homes, schools and medical centres in some of the worst effected areas, as well as moving into conflict mediation. In England Justine is part of New Bridge, a foundation working on the rehabilitation of life sentence prisoners before release.

Justine has been studying Eastern philosophy and yoga all through her adult life. She teaches yoga and philosophy in the UK and in India, both in Delhi and in the schools that The Kashmir Welfare Trust has in The Valley.


Book Excerpt


It was too soon for a response: from the army, from the victims, even from the families. Everything seemed to be in slow motion of collision. There seemed to be no afternoon and evening calls to prayer from the small mosque at one end of the main street. If villagers were going to prayer they moved noiselessly through the streets behind closed doors.

In cold smoky kitchens there were no questions to be asked. Hands were held, faces touched during long silences. Men seemed absent, the sound of crying usually that of a female relative, not the victim, but someone still able to make sound. Cold stones were settling into the cores of those silent women, sealing off the soft part of them that it would no longer be able to reach. Some of them were curled up, shivering, regardless of how many blankets had been laid over them to try to smother what had happened. Some squatted on their haunches, rocking back and forth. Most of those I met had not even washed since the attacks, the salty shock of their abuse still smeared on bruised skin and torn clothes.

Citation

In the Valley of Mist is a brilliant work of the mind and the heart. Combining an uncompromising sense of how complex the world is, and a near-Chekhovian ability to show us our foibles and to evince our great, often indecorous, passions, Justine Hardy’s poetic book about the Kashmir Valley— and the terrible human cost of the dislocations there — is a paean to the great and difficult work of building friendships between the author and the Dar family, between an Englishwoman and a Muslim family, and the near-inassimilable legacy of loss that ceaseless war and ceaseless destruction exacts on a beautiful land and its inhabitants. It is a book about people who want the best for their children and who know, first-hand, the dangers of a rising fundamentalism. And it is a book that makes us understand — in evocative, human-centered prose — that those who so frighten us are also frightened. And it is a book written by a woman, with a rich eye for detail and a lovely sense of the alliterative; a woman, with a British sense of a woman’s agency, who, understandably, finds much in the Kashmir Valley to be distasteful in its treatment of women. And it is a book, judicious as always, that provides us with the full measure of the Kasmiri woman’s sense of herself — of her interiority — which differs markedly from Hardy’s conception. There are no easy categorizations in Hardy’s work. There are only, as Hardy writes, “the stories… from inside their world” (my italics).

At the end of the Second World War, the scholar Oscar Williams, in a very pithy introduction to his anthology of British and American poetry, wrote: “In this difficult time, it is only the human heart that may prove provident enough to outweigh the atomic bomb.” And in no small sense, Justine Hardy’s book is just as provocatively situated, for the Kashmir Valley is the locus of great political shifts and currents, ideologies of religious fundamentalism and competing nationalisms, desires for self-determination and regional superiority, great upswellings of amassed hurts and distorted dreams, and the contested domain of two competing nuclear powers — India and Pakistan. And yet it is also one of the most beautiful places on the face of the planet, which Hardy describes in writing as lyrical as it is trenchant.

Although In the Valley of Mist is the story of the Dar family — and Hardy’s evolving friendship with them and their beautiful valley — it is just as demonstrably the narrative of how one apprehends difference, during great cultural and political upheaval. The author is a long-term visitor to the Kashmir Valley, where she grew up as a young girl, at first appreciating as a young person does, the great pageantry of the life about her. As a self-conscious adolescent, she witnesses a young boy kill a goat for a religious festival, Bakra Eid. Hardy quickly comprehends the boy’s reticence — he does not want to kill the animal. And yet in that moment of shared commiseration, we confront the great divide that experience, religion, and history provide. In many ways, this book is the chronicle of such weighty moments of connection and miss-connection.

Still, time and time again, Hardy startles us with her ability to empathize with the voiceless. Her description of how the poor become easy conscripts for terrorism is chilling in its veracity. Her description of the village of Kunan Poshpura, where Indian solders allegedly raped the entire female population, and where the women are in a state of psychic and social pariahdom, is horrific.

In the Valley of Mist, Hardy reminds us that all true human connection depends on a reverence for human experience, which cannot be denied. A British woman and a Muslim man can find moments of solidarity, but only if it is based on mutual respect and mutual acknowledgement of what is ultimately untranslatable in human affairs. As Hardy writes about her friend Mohammad Dar, with whom she has shared much: “We work together. There are gaps, cultural voids that we fall into, sentences left unfinished, times when we have to turn away from each other.” And yet, thank goodness, there are also times when, “He lets me catch up and we talk about things that are needed for the school. Sometimes he asks [my] advice about something.” Such small, fledgling moments of trust, such small openings for comity, Justine Hardy reminds us, are at the center of the world’s calculus.

In this dark time, when the fate of the planet may in fact depend on such hard-won moments of interconnection, Hardy’s book becomes revelatory. There is little of the romantic in this — Hardy is too clear-eyed. But like Anton Chekhov, or the great African American writer James Baldwin, Justine Hardy realizes that self-knowledge is the first step in the knowledge of others, that although we may lie to ourselves about the world, the world is under no obligation to lie for us. As Justine Hardy underscores in her magnificent book, and in her great philanthropic work in the Kashmir Valley, true intercultural cooperation can only be forged — slowly, with great judiciousness, and with great humility. In this ever-dangerous world, with its ever-increasing manifold dangers, we had best listen to her.

– Kenneth McClane
2010 finalist judge
Cornell University

2010 Finalists

Fiction

A Postcard from the Volcano by Lucy Beckett (Ignatius Press)

Beginning in 1914 and ending on the eve of World War II, this epic coming-of-age story follows a Prussian aristocrat as he confronts the ideologies that threaten the annihilation of millions of people.

A Good Fall by Ha Jin (Pantheon Books)

In this stark and insightful collection, acclaimed writer Ha Jin depicts the struggle of Chinese immigrants in America to remain loyal to their traditions as they explore the freedom that life in a new country offers.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Knopf)

A young Ethiopian doctor is forced to flee revolution in his homeland for New York City in this enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James (Penguin Group; G. P. Putham’s Sons/Riverhead Books)

Born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century, a woman with dark, mysterious powers finds herself at the heart of a slave revolt plotted by the women around her.

The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim (Henry Holt and Company)

In early-twentieth-century Korea, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher struggles to choose her own destiny while her country crumbles under Japanese occupation.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf)

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie turns her penetrating eye on both her native country and America in twelve dazzling stories that explore the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.

Nonfiction

Enough: Why the Worlds Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty by Roger Thurow & Scott Kilman (Public Affairs)

This powerful investigative narrative shows exactly how, in the past few decades, American, British, and European policies have conspired to keep Africa hungry and unable to feed itself.

In the Vally of Mist by Justine Hardy (Free Press)

A personal, moving, and vibrant picture of the Kashmir Valley, one of the most beautiful and troubled places in the world — described through the experiences of one family, whose fortunes have changed dramatically with those of the region.

Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortensen (Penguin Group, USA)

From the author of the #1 bestseller Three Cups of Tea, the continuing story of this determined humanitarian’s efforts to promote peace in Afghanistan through education.

Tears in the Darkness by Michael and Elizabeth Norman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Using the perspective of a young American soldier, this account of World War II’s Bataan death march exposes the myths of war and shows the extent of suffering and loss on both sides.

The Education of a British-Protected Child by Chinua Achebe (Knopf)

From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart, a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (McSweeney’s)

The meticulously researched story of a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four who chose to stay in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina and protect his house and business—but then abruptly disappeared.

2010 Book Nominations

Fiction

1. 31 Hours byMasha Hamilton (Unbridled Books)

2. A Good Fall* by Ha Jin (Pantheon Books)

3. A Journey, a Reckoning and a Miracle by K.J. Fraser (O-Books, John Hunt Publishing Ltd, UK)

4. A Postcard from the Volcano* by Lucy Beckett (Ignatius Press)

5. A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert (Scribner)

6. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

7. Blame by Michelle Huneven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

8. Cutting for Stone* by Abraham Verghese (Knopf)

9. Family Values by Abha Dawesar (Penguin Books, India)

10. German for Travelers by Norah Labiner (Coffee House Press)

11. Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (Knopf)

  + Fiction Winner
++ Fiction Runner-up
  * Finalist

12. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Random House)

13. Requiem of the Human Soul by Jeremy R. Lent (Libros Libertad, BC, Canada)

14. Ruins by Achy Obejas (Akashic Books)

15. The Book of Night Women+ by Marlon James (Riverhead Books)

16. The Calligrapher’s Daughter* by Eugenia Kim (Henry Holt and Company)

17. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (Other Press)

18. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Riverhead Books)

19. The Missing by Tim Gautreaux (Knopf)

20. The Thing Around Your Neck++ by Chimamanda (Adichie Knopf)

21. The Unit by Ninni Holmquist (Other Press)

22. The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji (HarperCollins)

Nonfiction

1. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal (Little, Brown and Company)

2. A Safe Haven by Ronald and Allis Radosh (Harper Collins)

3. A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya (Scribner)

4. Acts of Conscience by Steven J. Taylor (Syracuse University Press)

5. Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie (HarperCollins)

6. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (Little, Brown and Company)

7. Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Lori D. Ginszberg (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

8. Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in
an Age of Plenty
*
by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman (Public Affairs)

9. Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to
Grasshoppers
by Arundhati Roy Hamish Hamilton, UK)

10. Fromms by Ally Götz and Michael Sontheimer (Other Press)

11. Heart of Dryness by James G. Workman (Bloomsbury USA)

12. Impossible Motherhood by Irene Vilar (Other Press)

13. In the Valley of Mist++ by Justine Hardy (Free Press)

14. Innocent Abroad by Martin Indyk (Simon and Schuster)

15. Interesting Time by George Packer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

16. Justice by Michael Sander (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

17. My Hope for Peace by Jehan Sadat (Free Press)

18. No Enemy to Conquer by Michael Henderson (Baylor University)

19. Norman Corwin’s One World Flight by Norman Corwin (Continuum International Publishing Group)

20. On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

+ Nonfiction Winner
++ Nonfiction Runner-up
* Finalist

21. Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo (St. Martin’s Press)

22. Stones into Schools* by Greg Mortenson (Penguin Group (USA)

23. Tears in the Darkness* by Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

24. That Bird Has My Wings by Jarvis Jay Maters (HarperCollins)

25. The Antelope’s Strategy by Jean Hatzfeld (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

26. The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai (Pantheon Books)

27. The Education of a British-Protected Child* by Chinua Achebe (Knopf)

28. The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (Little, Brown and Company)

29. The Good Soldiers by David Finkel (Picador Publishing)

30. This Child Will be Great by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (HarperCollins)

31. To Tell the Truth Freely by Mia Bay (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

32. Us and Them by Abe Ata (Australian Catholic U.)

33. War of Necessity, War of Choice by Richard N. Haass (Simon and Schuster)

34. When Everything Changed by Gail Collins (Little, Brown and Company)

35. Where Am I Wearing by Kelsey Timmerman (Wiley)

36. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Danzy Senna (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

37. Where Mercy Fails by Chris Herlinger and Paul Jeffrey (Church Publishing, Inc.)

38. Will War Ever End? by Paul K. Chappell (Ashoka Books)

39. Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence
in the Lives of Young Black Men
by John A. Rich (The Johns Hopkins University Press)

40. Zeitoun+ by Dave Eggers (McSweeney’s)

2010 Finalist Judges

Fiction

Ken McClane

is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Literature and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University, where he has taught English, African American literature, and Creative Writing for 34 years. He is the author of eight poetry collections, Out Beyond the Bay; Moons and Low Times; At Winter’s End; To Hear the River; A Tree Beyond Telling: Poems Selected and New; These Halves Are Whole; and Take Five: Collected Poems, 1971-1986. In 1992 he published a volume of personal essays, Walls: Essays 1985-1990. A new essay collection, Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History appeared in 2009 from the University of Notre Dame Press. The University of Notre Dame Press reprinted Walls, with a new introduction, in 2010.

Professor McClane’s poetry and essays have appeared in many anthologies, including The Story and Its Writer, The Best African American Essays; The Art of the Essay; Bearing Witness: Selections from African-American Autobiography in the Twentieth Century; The Anatomy of Memory; Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Woman in Literature; The Jazz Poetry Anthology; The New Cavalcade; You’ve Got to Read This; and Trouble the Water: 250 Years of African-American Poetry. His essay “Walls” was selected for The Best American Essays 1988 and The Best American Essays (college edition) volumes. McClane’s introduction to James Baldwin’s novella, “Sonny’s Blues,” was broadcast on PBS in its GED Connection Series and he appears in a recent BBC documentary on Vladimir Nabokov. In 2002 he received the Distinguished Prose Award from the Antioch Review for his essays published in the magazine since 1985; in 2010, his collection Color: Essays on Race, Family, and History was awarded the Gold Medal for the best book of essays published in 2009 by Foreword Reviews Magazine.

Mr. McClane has been a visiting professor at Colby College, Williams College, where he was a Henry Luce Visiting Professor, Washington University (St. Louis), and a Dr. Martin Luther King Distinguished Professor at the University of Michigan and at Wayne State University. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Adelphi University, and on the Board of Directors of the Tompkins County Library Foundation, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, and the Tompkins County Community Foundation, where he was a Founding Board Member.

Cullen Murphy 

is the editor-at-large of Vanity Fair magazine. He was previously, for two decades, the managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Before that he was a senior editor at The Wilson Quarterly. In addition to his work as a magazine editor Murphy for twenty-five years wrote the comic strip Prince Valiant, which was drawn by his father, the illustrator John Cullen Murphy. Murphy’s articles and essays have appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, where he wrote a monthly column, Harper’s, The New Republic, Slate, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, American Heritage, and Smithsonian. His books include The Word According to Eve (1998), about women and the Bible; Just Curious(1995), a collection of essays; and Rubbish! (1992, with William L. Rathje), an anthropological study of garbage. He is currently at work on a book about the Inquisition.

Professional activities aside, Murphy is involved in the work of many organizations. He is a member of the board of trustees of Amherst College, and serves on the board of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. He is also on the editorial board of The American Scholar and of OnEarth, the magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and he is a member of the usage panel of The American Heritage Dictionary.

In 2008 Murphy’s Are We Rome? was the runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.

Nonfiction

Katherine Vaz

a Briggs-Copeland Fellow in Fiction at Harvard University and a 2006-7 Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is the author of two novels, Saudade (St. Martin’s Press), a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers selection, and Mariana in six languages and picked by the Library of Congress as one of the Top 30 International Books of 1998. Her collection Fado & Other Stories won the 1997 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and Our Lady of the Artichokes won the 2007 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and her children’s stories has been published in anthologies from Viking and Simon & Schuster.

Nancy Zafris  

is the Series Editor of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. In this capacity she selects two winning books to be published each year. Before this she was the fiction editor of The Kenyon Review for nine years. She has published over two dozen short stories and three books of fiction: The People I Know, which won the Flannery O’Connor award, The Metal Shredders, a New York Times notable book of the year, and Lucky Strike, a Book Sense Notable. She has won individual artist’s grants from the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and the Ohio Arts Council. She has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts grants and has served as a judge on the NEA literature panel. As a Senior Fulbright Fellow, she taught at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Centre College, and The Ohio State University. She is the co-director of the Kenyon Review Summer Writers’ Workshop for Adults, where she teaches each June.

2010 Awards Ceremony

The 2010 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 7th, 2010, at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center at One West Second Street in Dayton, Ohio. Nick Clooney was the Master of Ceremonies.

See videos from the 2010 Award Ceremony!

Lifetime Achievement Award Geraldine Brooks

Fiction Award Marlon James for The Book of Night Women

Nonfiction Award Dave Egger for Zeitoun

Fiction Runner-up Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for The Thing Around Your Neck

Nonfiction Runner-up Justine Hardy for In the Valley of Mist

Additional Videos

Photos by Andy Snow (andysnow.com) ©2010.

2010 Master of Ceremonies

Nick Clooney

If you ask Nick Clooney what he does for a living, he will tell you he is a reporter. That is true, but hardly exhaustive.

As a television newsman, Nick has been reporter, anchor, managing editor and news director in Lexington, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Buffalo and Los Angeles.

As a columnist, Nick has, since 1989, contributed three columns a week to the Cincinnati and Kentucky Post dealing with subjects as varied as politics, travel, music and American history. Some of his articles and op-ed pieces have appeared in newspapers around the country, including the Los Angeles Times and the Salt lake Tribune.

As an author, he has published three books, including The Movies That Changed Us in 2002.

But the curiosity that drove Nick to a life as a reporter, also led him to explore other areas of interest. He hosted talk shows in Cincinnati and Columbus and music programs on radio. For five years he was a writer and daily on-air spokesman for American Movie Classic cable channel. Now, he is a writer, producer and host for American Life cable channel. His Moments that Changed Usprogram explores the intersection of a person and an important moment in our history. Guests have included John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, Diahann Carroll and Steve Wozniak.

Nick began working on radio full time when he was 17, in his hometown of Maysville, Kentucky.

In addition to his continuing broadcasting career, Nick has been a speaker, master of ceremonies or panelist of more than 3,000 events coast-to-coast.

Nick has accumulated a number of awards and honors over the years, including an Emmy for commentary and three Emmy nominations for his work on American Movie Classics. In December 1998, he received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Northern Kentucky University. In 2000, he received the President’s Medal from Thomas More College, and was inducted into the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2001, Nick was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was inducted into the Ohio Television Hall of Fame. In May 2007, Nick received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Kentucky and was the commencement speaker, a task he has undertaken at 31 other schools over the years.

Nick is married to Nina Warren of Perryville, Kentucky, who is a writer, inventor and TV host. Their oldest child, Ada, also a writer, is the mother of the World’s Only Grandchildren, Allison and Nick. The Clooney’s younger child, George, is an Oscar-winning actor, producer, writer and director in films.

In April of 2006, Nick and his son George went to the Sudan and Chad to report on the ongoing genocide in the region of Darfur. Since their return, both have traveled extensively as advocates for a peaceful solution to the crisis. George has spoken at the United Nations and has traveled to China and Egypt. He continues to hold fundraisers, while Nick has made more than 75 speeches at schools, churches, and town meetings. The pair has also made a documentary, Journey to Darfur, which has been shown internationally.

In the early 1970s, Nick and Nina decided to establish a permanent home from which they could travel according to the demands of their peripatetic profession. They moved to the beautiful river town of Augusta, Kentucky. Both of their children graduated from tiny Augusta High School. Eventually, other members of the family found their way to Augusta, including Nick’s famous sister, Rosemary Clooney. After her death in 2002, Rosemary’s home became a museum honoring her career.

Advancing years sometimes dictate a slow-down in professional activity. Someone forgot to tell Nick. He is currently the “distinguished journalist in residence” at the American University in Washington D.C. through the partnership between the school and the Newseum, a 250,000-square-foot museum in Washington dedicated to news. He’ll teach opinion writing this fall and a spring course based on his 2002 book, Movies That Changed Us.