Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2011 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

Barbara Kingsolver

“I’m very moved by both the legacy and the aspirations of this prize. It will be an honor to stand in the heart of the country and celebrate peace.”

— Barbara Kingsolver                        

Barbara-Kingsolver_2011_holbrooke_award_winner
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Bio

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. At various times in her adult life she has lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently resides.

Her books, in order of publication, are: The Bean Trees (1988), Homeland (1989), Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike (1989), Animal Dreams (1990), Another America (1992), Pigs in Heaven(1993), High Tide in Tucson (1995), The Poisonwood Bible (1998), Prodigal Summer (2000), Small Wonder (2002), Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands, with photographer Annie Griffiths Belt (2002), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), The Lacuna (2009) and Flight Behavior (2012). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She has contributed to more than fifty literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines. (Click here to view complete bibliography.)

Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. In 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Orange Prize, and won the national book award of South Africa, before being named an Oprah Book Club selection. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes including the James Beard award. The Lacunawon The Orange Prize for Fiction, 2010.

She has two daughters, Camille (born in 1987) and Lily (1996). Her husband, Steven Hopp, teaches environmental studies. Since June 2004, Barbara and her family have lived on a farm in southern Appalachia. Barbara believes her best work is accomplished through writing, raising her children, and being an active citizen of her own community. She is grateful for the good will and support of her readers.

Read the full press release


Book Excerpt 


“Tortolita, let me tell you a story,” Estevan said. “This is a South American, wild Indian story about heaven and hell.” Mrs. Parsons made a prudish face, and Estevan went on. “If you go visit hell, you will see a room like this kitchen. There is a pot of delicious stew on the table, with the most delicate aroma you can imagine. All around, people sit, like us. Only they are dying of starvation. They are jibbering and jabbering,” he looked extra hard at Mrs. Parsons, “but they cannot get a bit of this wonderful stew God has made for them. Now, why is that?”

“Because they’re choking? For all eternity?” Lou Ann asked. Hell, for Lou Ann, would naturally be a place filled with sharp objects and small round foods.

“No,” he said. “Good guess, but no. They are starving because they only have spoons with very long handles. As long as that.” He pointed to the mop, which I had forgotten to put away. “With these ridiculous, terrible spoons, the people in hell can reach into the pot but they cannot put the food in their mouths. Oh, how hungry they are! Oh, how they swear and curse each other!” he said, looking again at Virgie. He was enjoying this.

“Now,” he went on, “you can go and visit heaven. What? You see a room just like the first one, the same table, the same pot of stew, the same spoons as long as a sponge mop. But these people are all happy and fat.”

“Real fat, or do you mean just well-fed?” Lou Ann asked.

“Just well-fed,” he said. “Perfectly, magnificently well-fed, and very happy. Why do you think?”

He pinched up a chunk of pineapple in his chopsticks, neat as you please, and reached all the way across the table to offer it to Turtle. She took it like a newborn bird.”

Citation

Barbara Kingsolver’s work demonstrates that peace is not simply a matter of reconciliation and resolution; peace is a delicate self-sustaining condition contingent on mutual dependence among people, nations, cultures, and other living beings. Peace, she tells us, is a fragile web of interconnectedness easily harmed. Her books provide counsel on what happens when even a single filament of that web is damaged.

Kingsolver is not only a prolific writer of fiction, she is also a biologist who has addressed the natural world with the same personal commitment and literary excellence that she has given her narrative work. She has published 14 books and hundreds of articles and contributions to anthologies, including several scientific works; she began her writing career in 1977.

A significant voice in arts and letters as well as ecology, Kingsolver’s work has earned her 25 national and international awards, including the National Humanities Medal. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for both the Orange Prize for Fiction, and The Pulitzer Prize. Other work has earned the American Booksellers Book of the Year, the PEN / Faulkner Award, The James Beard Award, The National Book Prize of South Africa, the Edward Abbey EcoFiction Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the United National National Council of Women citation of accomplishment.

This year, her work earned the Duke Leaf Award for lifetime environmental achievement in the fine arts.

From The Bean Trees, and Homeland, published in 1988 and 1989, through her most recent novel, The Lacuna, Kingsolver has been writing about the complex relationships we develop, live with, and daily negotiate, transforming them into experiences that are simultaneously ordinary and significant.

A native of Kentucky, she has explored the hope, balance, and intricacy of human and environmental interactions that extend from Appalachia to The Congo, from the simplest ways to grow, gather, and prepare food to the complex biosocial outcomes of contemporary life today

In 1998, Ms. Kingsolver established the Bellweather Prize for fiction, a $25,000 award for an unpublished work of fiction.

-Winona Wendth
DLPP Board Member
Writer; Associate Professor
Atlantic Union College, Massachusetts

For a complete list of Barbara Kingsolver’s published works, see the Bibliography section of her website. Each of her books is described in more detail in the Books section, and critical acclaim is listed in the Honors and Awards section. For a more complete biography, see Barbara Reveals Herself.

2011 Fiction Winner

Chang-rae Lee - The Surrendered

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“History shows that all nations eventually decline, governments shall fall, great structures will crumble to dust; yet literature endures. Why? Because in order to thrive we need our own voices to tilt against intolerance, ignorance, callousness; to make ourselves vulnerable to the difficult and beautiful truths of our humanity; to remind us we are one. This is what the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation so rightly supports and celebrates; that my work has been thusly recognized is a deeply humbling — and inspiring — honor.”

— Chang-rae Lee                        

Bio

Chang-rae Lee is the author of The Surrendered, Native Speaker (winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for First Fiction), A Gesture Life, and Aloft. He is also the recipient of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, a NAIBA Book Award for Fiction, an Asian American Literary Award, an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the Oregon Book Sward, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and QPB’s New Voices Award.

Selected by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, Chang-rae Lee teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. The Surrendered was included in the “100 Notable Books of 2010” list by the New York Times Book Review, voted one of the “Top 10 Best Books of 2010” by Publishers Weekly, named one of the “Top 25 Books of 2010” by Kirkus, and was one of the “Editor’s picks for the Year” by Barnes&Noble.com.

Citation

This novel is a close look, a personal examination of people torn and formed by the violence of the Korean War. Chang-rae Lee does not blink as he demonstrates – in harrowing scenes – the violence that swings through the lives of the displaced, particularly one missionary family in Korea and the people closest to them. This is a book of moments – many times bloody moments – through decades, and the drama is vivid and uncomfortable and compelling.

After the chaotic pitch of the first half of the book involving the history of the Korean orphanage, the Tanners and Benjamin Li and Hector and June, the story returns to the United States and then goes off again following June’s search for her estranged son. This is a big novel which steadily transcends any thematic constraints and steps into real art as the dimensions of the book insist on a gritty and complex understanding of our best impulses in the worst of times. All the while, page by page, the prose in the novel has a forceful elegance.

In this novel, thoughts like these, gracious and magnanimous, are constantly – as in life – challenged and battered by the real forces of men at war and people divided in their own hearts.

— Ron Carlson
2011 finalist judge
University of California, Irvine


Book Excerpt


And yet Francis could not quite move. He couldn’t aim or even raise his arm. When he finally held out the pistol for the officer to take back from him, Jane whispered, “Oh my love.” Her eyes were shimmering. Sylvie was crying as well, suddenly remembering now what her mother always told her, that mercy was the only true deliverance. There was nothing more exaltedly human, more beautiful to behold. And a great searing rush of love seemed at once to cleave her and bind her back up, a love for her father and her mother and then, too, for Benjamin Li, despite what had happened, whom she could see only as her father just did, as the one wanted mercy most of all…

2011 Fiction Runner-up

Maaza Mengiste - Beneath the Lion's Gaze

“It is an honor to be selected as the Fiction Runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. I am humbled by the acknowledgement that a book about revolution and war can, in fact, be a testament to love and human dignity. I am thankful that this prize exists; that each year, we can reaffirm that literature does make a difference, that just as much as war can start from errant, misspoken words, writers and readers have the ability to shift the tide with an equally momentous drive for peace and understanding.”

— Maaza Mengiste              

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Bio

Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and she graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. A 2010-11 Fulbright Scholar and recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she was named “New Literary Idol” by New York Magazine. She has also received fellowships from the Emily Harvey Foundation, the Prague Summer Program, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.

Her work has appeared in 42opus, The Baltimore Review, Ninth Letter, in the anthology Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, and has been translated and published in German and Romanian for Lettre International. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is her first novel. She currently lives in New York.


Book Excerpt


The rich think this land is theirs though they have never earned the right to call it theirs.  Not like these farmers. Not like my father.  Most of those who are here, on the ground dying, are the ones who were strong enough to walk out of their villages and get here. The roads are littered with our people who died on the way, their bodies rotting in the sun if the vultures haven’t gotten to them first.  We dishonor our dear and our workers, Dawit.  The rich have kept this secret, the emperor has stolen this truth from us and we have to fight to get our country back and save these people.

Citation

This is a uniquely personal book in which the drama stems not only from political revolution, but the dynamics of one deftly drawn Ethiopian family — a balanced and well-orchestrated cast of characters who interact as believable people. The astonishing maturity of this young author’s work is that it does not carry the message of peace on a banner, but rather in the portrayal of human suffering that arises from the fraying of the bonds that keep society whole.

As the city of Addis Ababa fragments into the ranks of soldiers and rebels, our characters are subject to increasing paranoia and betrayal, building to the humiliation of Dr. Hailu, which has to be one of the most painful passages in contemporary fiction; and we realize, as in masterworks like Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, that the roots of totalitarianism and war start with the breakdown of everyday trust in our neighbors; consequently peace begins with conflict resolution and faith in others.

This enduring message is told in clean and effective language, with the unflinching eye of a writer true to her material. The theme is universal, as expressed with understated strength at the end of the book: “Only the family remained.”

— April Smith
2011 finalist judge

2011 Nonfiction Winner

Wilbert Rideau - In the Place of Justice

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“I am a witness for the power of the written word. I know first-hand that reading is transformative. I know that books can inspire people to be better than they are, to aim higher than they thought they could ever go, to create opportunity where none was apparent, to find hope in the bleakest of circumstances, and to discover their own humanity. I believe that the greatest satisfaction any writer can have is to make a difference for good in his world. If my memoir can help one person find a more peaceable path through life, I will consider it a success.”

— Wilbert Rideau 

Bio

Wilbert Rideau spent forty-four years in the Louisiana prison system before winning a new trial and his freedom. He pioneered a free press behind bars in 1976 when he became editor of The Angolite, a prison newsmagazine that during his tenure was nominated seven times for a National Magazine Award.

In 1979, he became the first prisoner ever to win the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award; the following year he received journalism’s prestigious George Polk Award. While in prison, he was a correspondent for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air; co-produced and narrated a radio documentary, “Tossing Away the Keys,” for NPR’s All Things Considered; co-produced and narrated “In for Life” for ABC-TV’s Day One; provided the story and guidance for the television documentary Final Judgment: The Execution of Antonio James, for which he received the Louisiana Bar Association’s highest award for Overall Excellence in Journalism; co-directed the Academy Award-nominated film The Farm: Angola U.S.A., which earned him a Tree of Life Award from Friends of the Black Oscar Nominees.

Since his release from prison in 2005, he has received the Human Rights Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Since 2007 he has been a Soros Fellow and has worked as a consultant with the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel project to improve communications between defense teams and their clients.

He now lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Linda.

Citation

Throughout history, prisoners have chronicled their experience behind bars, striving to illuminate society’s darkest and most forgotten places through their own tales of struggle and suffering. But none has approached the task with the courage, compassion and literary grace of Wilbert Rideau. Many inmates, confronted by the injustices that Rideau was forced to endure over 44 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, would have simply railed against “the system” or lashed out against their captors. Rideau, by contrast, sets out on a dangerous and deeply moving journey of transformation, determined to atone for his crime in the only way that matters: by leading a life committed to both personal redemption and institutional reform.

A ninth-grade dropout who kills a woman during a botched bank holdup, Rideau uses his years in solitary confinement on death row to confront his own crime and educate himself about the broader world that has banished him. Then, as editor of The Angolite, he uses his newfound knowledge on behalf of others, forging what would become not only the best prison newspaper in America, but a model for journalists everywhere. Rather than succumbing to bitterness and hatred – or slavishly siding with prison officials to better his own chances for release – Rideau turns the paper into a crusading voice for fairness and justice. He takes readers deep inside the American penal system, repeatedly exposing its brutality, racial bias and corruption through honest and determined reporting. At the same time, he uses the tale of his own case – one fraught with the racial politics of the Deep South – to lay bare the separate and unequal legal system that has outlasted Jim Crow.

For his reporting alone, Rideau has made a critical and lasting contribution to our understanding of a prison system that long ago gave up on the notion of rehabilitation. But his memoir goes far beyond the limitations of journalism. He brings to his story a deep devotion to the power of literature, drawing on traditions as diverse as St. Augustine and Frederick Douglass to craft a dramatic and moving tale that is both deeply felt and richly observed. In refusing to be cast as a cold-blooded murderer, Rideau never presents himself as a saint – only as a man who, with all his flaws, manages to come through the trials of life, including those he has inflicted on himself and others, and achieve something beyond his personal freedom, something rare and wondrous: true salvation.

– Eric Bates
2011 finalist judgesExecutive Editor, Rolling Stones


Book Excerpt


A heaviness settled on me, as it has before and will again – a sense of death. My chest feels tight; I feel cramped and smothered. I literally ache from despair. Long ago, a cruel world that regarded by ambitions as insolence and my claim to equality as blasphemy ignited in me fires of frustration fueled by ignorance. I stand in the ominous silence of this steel tomb and contemplate the utter destruction of life that followed – my victim’s, my family’s, my own. I agonize for what has been lost, what could have been. From this wreckage, I will save something yet, though I cannot see how. I look at the books on my bunk. I know they are the keys to keeping my sanity, and they are also my salvation. If I die here, I am not going to die an ignorant man. I am going to learn something about the world and taste something of life before I leave it, if only through books. And if I somehow survive this experience, I am going to need all the education I can milk from these books.

2011 Nonfiction Runner-up

Isabel Wilkerson - The Warmth of Other Suns

“I am thrilled to be among the inspiring authors who have been honored with this now legendary award. I was so very moved by the judges’ citation. It was clear that they truly understood the magnitude of this universal human story and my devotion to telling it through the hearts and journeys of those little known people who had the courage to defect a repressive regime within the borders of their own country, and ultimately, changed it, north and south. By that simple step, freeing us all.”

— Isabel Wilkerson 

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Bio

Isabel Wilkerson, who spent most of her career as a national correspondent and bureau chief at The New York Times, is the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism and was the first black American to win for individual reporting.

Inspired by her own parents’ migration, she devoted fifteen years to the research and writing of The Warmth of Other Suns. She interviewed more than 1,200 people, unearthed archival works and gathered the voices of the famous and the unknown to tell the epic story of the relocation of an entire people in The Warmth of Other Suns.


Book Excerpt


A heavy snow fell outside. In a symbolic kind of way, snow was to Chicago what cotton was to Mississippi. It blanketed the land. It was inevitable. Both were so much a part of the landscape of either place that where you saw snow you by definition would not see cotton and vice versa. Coming to Chicago was a guarantee that you would not be picking cotton. The people sitting at this dining room table this late winter night had chosen snow over cotton.

The Great Migration and the Power of a Single Decision

Sometimes, a single decision can change the course of history. Join journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson as she tells the story of the Great Migration, the outpouring of six million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to cities in the North and West between World War I and the 1970s. This was the first time in American history that the lowest caste people signaled they had options and were willing to take them — and the first time they had a chance to choose for themselves what they would do with their innate talents, Wilkerson explains. “These people, by their actions, were able to do what the powers that be, North and South, could not or would not do,” she says. “They freed themselves.”

Citation

For most critics the indispensable American novel celebrating African American life is Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Now, with Isabel Wilkerson’s stunning new book, The Warmth of Other Suns, we inherit another seminal text—and it is no less important. Deftly integrating 1,200 interviews with historical documentation and her personal family history, The Warmth of Other Suns is a brilliant account of the Great Migration, the epic story of the 6 million black people who, between 1915 and1970, escaped the brutal dehumanizing American South to move to Harlem, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Newark, and Chicago. It is a story of courage and resiliency, disappointment and salvation—of dreams deferred and waylaid.

Placing the Great Migration alongside the story of pilgrims throughout history fleeing the untenable, Isabel Wilkerson’s book makes us understand what was involved in that great calculus when millions abandoned their homes, families, and upbringings to escape lynching, economic privation, and abject racial brutality. The Warmth of Other Suns is not a book for the squeamish; Wilkerson does not sanitize the legacy of injustice or state-sanctioned terrorism that suffused both the South and the North. In her cinematic writing, we anxiously wait at the train station, afraid that the Mississippian landowner might see us, force us back into servitude, or maim or kill us; we travel towards locales we could only dimly imagine (the mythic Promised Land of the North), following the caprice of the railroad’s offerings, some of us stopping in Syracuse, Chicago, or Philadelphia, others of us, the uninitiated, getting off at Newark because Newark sounded like New York to our untrained Southern ears. Each of us—no matter how furiously impassioned—carrying shards of our past like an amulet, sweet potatoes, a jar of filè, anything that might remind us of home. This, as Wilkerson powerfully shows, is the truth of migrants everywhere—fleeing from terrorism. Fleeing but still longing for home.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a book of grand, larger-than-life personalities. One will never forget the flamboyant Dr. Joseph Robert Pershing Foster; the hard-working George Swanson Starling; the wise, indomitable, churchly Ida Mae Brandon Gladney who, like so many others, had abandoned the South to live in Chicago, create a life, and forsake (however uneasily) the cotton fields.

For many of us, who have family members who were born in the South, Wilkerson’s book provides us access to what remains largely unspoken. For others, Wilkerson’s work evinces a true appreciation of what American segregation was — how it shaped us as a country — and how its pain still endures. Yet The Warmth of Other Suns is, most importantly, the elegantly rendered chronicle of everyone—in America, Burma, or Libya—who struggles for human dignity.

– Kenneth McClane
2011 finalist judge
Cornell University

2011 Finalists

Fiction

The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead Books)

The lives of a Korean War orphan and a young GI collide in an orphanage where they vie for the attentions of a beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything.

How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu (Riverhead Books)

A young man leaves behind his marriage and job in New York to retrace his parents’ honeymoon as young Ethiopian immigrants, weaving together a family history that will take him from the war-torn country of his parents’ youth to a brighter vision of his life in America today.

Beneath the Lions Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (W. W. Norton and Company)

An epic tale of a father and two sons, of betrayals and loyalties, and a family unraveling in the wake of Ethiopia’s revolution.

The Gendarme by Mark Mustian (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)

A World War I veteran, nearing the end of his life, is suddenly beset by memories of escorting Armenians from Turkey, churning up troubling details he and others have denied or purposely forgotten.

Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne (HarperCollins Publishers)

A young financial wizard from Qatar, fluent in numbers yet baffled by human connections, creates a computer program that predicts oil futures and reaps record profits for his American company – but carries heavy moral implications that force him to examine his loyalties.

Nonfiction

Crossing Madelbaum Gate by Kai Bird (Scribner)

Pulitzer Prize winner Kai Bird’s memoir of his early years spent in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon provides an original and illuminating perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Little Princes by Conor Grennan (HarperCollins Publishers)

After trading his day job for a life of globe-trekking adventure, the author finds a greater purpose when he volunteers at a Nepalese “orphanage” full of children whose families believe they’ve been led out of the war-torn country to safety.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)

The bestselling author of Seabiscuit offers a vivid account of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II and drew on deep wellsprings of ingenuity, optimism, and humor to survive thousands of miles across the ocean followed by even greater trials as a prisoner of war.

For Us Surrender is Out of the Question by Mac McClelland (Soft Skull Press)

Part investigative journalism, part memoir, McClelland’s fascinating debut recalls her experiences as a Midwestern twenty-something girl illegally aiding refugee activists on the Burma-Thailand border.

In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau (Alfred A. Knopf)

A death row inmate in Louisiana’s Angola penitentiary, at the time the most violent in the nation, finds redemption as a prison journalist in this uplifting memoir.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)

Wilkerson tells the stories of three black Americans who fled the South for an uncertain existence in the urban North and West in what became known as the Great Migration of the mid-20th century.

2011 Finalist Judges

Fiction

Eric Bates

is executive editor of Rolling Stone, where he oversees the magazine’s feature writing and political reporting. He previously served as investigative editor of Mother Jones and editor-in-chief of Southern Exposure, the region’s leading political journal.

His work as an editor and reporter has received many of journalism’s top honors, including seven National Magazine Awards. He has served as a visiting lecturer at Duke University and a trustee of Antioch College.

Ron Carlson

is the director of the Graduate Program in Fiction at the University of California, Irvine. His most recent book is the novel The Signal from Viking. His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Harpers, The New Yorker, and other journals, as well as The Best American Short Stories, The O’Henry Prize Series, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and other anthologies.

Ron Carlson Writes a Story, his book on writing is taught widely. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Cohen Prize at Ploughshares, the McGinnis Award at the Iowa Review, the Aspen Literary Award, and his novel Five Skies was One Book Rhode Island in 2009.

Nonfiction

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.

April Smith

is the author of the critically acclaimed FBI Special Agent Ana Grey novels — North of Montana (featured in TIME), Good Morning, Killer (“Critic’s Choice” — PEOPLE Magazine), Judas Horse (starred reviews, Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly), and White Shotgun, to be published in hardcover June 21, 2011. She has also written a standalone thriller, Be the One, about the only female baseball scout in the major leagues. April is currently working on another Ana Grey novel and she is the writer and executive producer of Good Morning, Killer, a two-hour movie for TNT based on her novel of the same name. She is published by Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. Her books are also available as e-books.

April Smith was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Boston University cum laude and With Distinction in English Literature, and Stanford University, from which she holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Aside from writing novels, April is a successful television writer/producer, having produced and written for award-winning dramatic series such as Cagney and Lacey and Chicago Hope, mini-series, and movies of the week, including TV adaptations of The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three and Anna Quindlen’s Black and Blue. Her most recent credit is the Stephen King mini-series, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, for TNT. She has received three Emmy Award nominations and two Writer’s Guild Award nominations. For more information, go to www.aprilsmith.net.

2011 Awards Ceremony

The 2011 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 13th, 2011, 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 2011 Award Ceremony!

Richard C. Holbrooke Award Barbara Kingsolver

Fiction Award Chang-rae Lee for The Surrendered

Nonfiction Award Wilbert Rideau for In the Place of Justice

Fiction Runner-up Maaza Mengiste for Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

Nonfiction Runner-up Isabel Wilkerson for The Warmth of Other Suns

Additional Videos

Photos by Andy Snow (andysnow.com) ©2011.

2011 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.