2011 Dayton Literary
Peace Prize Finalists


  • 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.


  • 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.

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