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Acclaimed author to receive prize renamed in honor
of the late diplomat who brokered historic 1995
Dayton Peace Accords ending the war in Bosnia

Dayton, OH (August 2, 2011) – Author Barbara Kingsolver will receive the first-ever Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced today.

The award, which was formerly known as the Lifetime Achievement Award, was renamed in honor of the late Richard C. Holbrooke, the celebrated U.S. diplomat who played an instrumental role in negotiating the historic 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. The award will be presented to Kingsolver by journalist Kati Marton, Holbrooke’s widow, at a gala ceremony in Dayton on November 13, 2011. Holbrooke had been serving as special advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan under President Obama when he passed away in December 2010.

“Richard Holbrooke passionately believed in the power of words to forge peace and understanding, and Barbara Kingsolver’s impressive body of work beautifully reflects that mission,” said former Ohio Governor Bob Taft (1999-2007), chair of the selection committee*. “A writer of elegant and graceful prose, she leaves the reader with a sense of urgency about the topic she cares for most: the complex nature of what it takes to live together peacefully and creatively.”

“I am deeply honored and appreciative of the renaming of this award for my husband,” said Marton. “It is a spectacular way to remind the world of a time when negotiated peace saved uncountable lives. The Dayton Peace Accords were a milestone in Richard’s career and should remain a model for waging peace in these troubled times.”

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

Since she began her career in the 1980s, Kingsolver’s fiction, nonfiction, essays, and poetry have often explored issues of social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction of human beings with their community and the natural world. She is the author of The Poisonwood Bible (1998), a modern classic that chronicles one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, and The Lacuna (2009), a gripping novel exploring the intricate relationship between Mexico and the United States. Her nonfiction works include the acclaimed Small Wonder, a collection of essays written in response to 9/11 which nimbly skips from the Grand Canyon to the civil rights movement to her own vegetable garden to show how everything in this world is connected.

Kingsolver will join the ranks of past winners of the award, including Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel (2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDun (2009), and Geraldine Brooks (2010).

Finalists for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced in August.

About the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Click here to visit our website The Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Launched in 2006, it has already established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious literary honors, and is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States. As an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards a $10,000 cash prize each year to one fiction and one nonfiction author whose work advances peace as a solution to conflict, and leads readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view. An annual lifetime achievement award is also bestowed upon a writer whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission; previous honorees include Studs Terkel, Elie Wiesel, Taylor Branch, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and Geraldine Brooks.

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* Members of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award Selection Committee:

  • Kati Marton, Honorary Chair
  • Bob Taft, Chair, Governor of Ohio, 1999 – 2007, Distinguished Research Associate in the School of Education and Allied Professions, University of Dayton
  • Sharon Rab, Founder and Co-chair, Dayton Literary Peace Prize (DLPP)
  • Mark Meister, President and CEO, Dayton Society of Natural History and Co-chair, DLPP
  • Jeff Bruce, former Editor of the Dayton Daily News
  • Brian Coniff, Dean of Arts and Science, University of Scranton
  • Bob Fogarty, Editor of the Antioch Review
  • Geeta Kothari, writer, Fiction Editor of the Kenyon Review
  • Carol Loranger, English Department Chair, Wright State University
  • Vick Mickunas, Book Reviewer
  • Sharon Kelly Roth, Director of Public Relations, books&co
  • John Sebaly, attorney and book store owner
  • Andrew Slade, Associate Professor, University of Dayton
  • Winona Wendth, writer, Associate Professor, Atlantic Union College, MA
  • Nancy Zafris, writer, Editor of the Flannery O’Connor Award

Press release in PDF format.

Promoting Peace and Literacy Around the World

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