Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2012 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

Tim O'Brien

“It is a great, great honor to have been chosen as a recipient of the Richard C. Holbrooke Award. Over what has been a long career, this award means more to me than any other — by far.”

Tim O’Brien                        

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Bio

Tim O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for his novel Going After Cacciato.

In 2005 The Things They Carried was named by the New York Times as one of the twenty best books of the last quarter century. It received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The French edition of The Things They Carriedreceived one of France’s highest literary awards, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. The title story from The Things They Carried received the National Magazine Award and was selected by John Updike for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century.

In the Lake of the Woods, published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times.

In 2010, O’Brien received the Katherine Anne Porter Award, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a distinguished lifetime body of work. O’Brien’s other books include If I Die in a Combat Zone, Northern Lights, Tomcat in Love and July, July. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Esquire, Playboy, Harper’s, and numerous editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories. His novels have sold more than three million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Read the full press release

 

Book Excerpt

 

They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing—these were intangibles but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment. They crawled into tunnels and walked point and advanced under fire. Each morning, despite the unknowns, they made their legs move. They endured. They kept humping. They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall. So easy, really. Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge until your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world. A mere matter of falling, yet no one ever fell. It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.

Tim O'Brien's on being a "Peace Writer"

Click on the image below to view a 3:40 minute video of Tim O’Brien’s comments at the authors’ reception in Dayton on November 10, 2012.

Citation

The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award being given to Tim O’Brien by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation can in some ways be traced to a resolution of the United States Congress. In 1964 Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and ignited the Vietnam War, a war which quickly divided the country and sadly took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. In 1968 Tim O’Brien’s promising graduate education at Harvard was interrupted by a draft notice just two weeks after his graduation from Macalester College. Clearly one of America’s best and brightest, O’Brien was soon in Vietnam, serving as a grunt soldier assigned to the Americal Division where his platoon conducted search and destroy missions in some of the same “Pinkville” villages in the Quang Ngai Province that less than a year before had been subjected to the search and destroy missions by Lt. William Calley that had resulted in the My Lai Massacre. O’Brien’s experiences in Vietnam became the war stories of a series of novels and a memoir, but his works go far beyond combat life. He has used his war stories to join the past to the future as he weaves them into the fabric of his characters and tells the reader how war experiences affect the ability to love and find peace in a post-war environment. As he said in The Things They Carried, “a true war story is never about war. It’s about sunlight … It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow.” He first captured his Vietnam experiences in his memoir If I die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, a title taken from a military marching cadence. A subsequent novel, Going After Cacciato, has been described as “the finest piece of American fiction to emerge from the Vietnam War,” a recognition repeated again and again by the critics. Recounting the search and destroy missions of soldiers in Vietnam, Tim O’Brien captures the horrors and hallucinations of war as he searches for peace and tries to comprehend how war affects the land and people caught up in it. As Paul Berlin the protagonist scans the deceptive plains of Quang Ngai Province, he wistfully wonders “Where have the birds gone?” O’Brien also explores the lingering passions and pain that lie half-buried in the aftermath of war. He engages the reader in the plot of In the Lake of the Wood, a novel that uses the actual transcript of the Lt. Calley court-martial. The protagonist John Wade suffers a humiliating political defeat triggered by the last minute publication of his participation in the My Lai Massacre. Wade and his wife retreat to a remote cabin where he struggles through a labyrinth of unearthed feelings. The confusion and ambiguities of Wade’s struggles become part of the readers’ experience as Wade’s wife, and then Wade, disappear, and the readers are left to make their own conclusions. In addition to the insightful writings drawn from his Vietnam experiences, O’Brien has successfully ventured into humor. Tomcat in Love, a collection of stories, provides a wonderful character description that might apply to O’Brien himself:
In one way or another, it seems to me, virtually every human utterance represents a performance of sorts, and I, too, have been known to lay on the flourishes. I enjoy the decorative adjective, the animating adverb. I use words, as a fireman uses water.
O’Brien’s work demonstrates enormous talent in the use of the subtleties and texture of the English language. Now we honor his use of his own talents and experiences to deepen our understanding of the realities of war and their effect on the individual struggle for peace. Through it all, he lived the war. He dreamed the peace. The things he carried through life, he carried in his heart through his writings. He was the voice of his Vietnam, the voice of his generation, and the voice of his country. His writings will be forever enshrined as the defining literature of the Vietnam War. In the Lake of the Woods was described by Time magazine as the best novel of 1994. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the American Society of Historians. The Things They Carried received France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger award. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His book, Going After Cacciato, won the National Book Award in fiction in 1979. O’Brien is the recipient of literary awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation honors a body of work that reflects literary excellence and advances our understanding of peace. As O’Brien himself has written in The Things They Carried: “In the midst of evil you want to be a good man. You want decency. You want justice and courtesy and human concord.” Tim O’Brien’s body of work in the literature of war will forever stand out as a major contribution to the effort to promote peace, harmony, and human understanding through the use of the written word.

Merle F. Wilberding Dayton Literary Peace Prize Board Member Captain, JAGC, U.S. Army (1969 – 1973) Attorney at Law – Writer Coolidge Wall Co. LPA, Dayton, Ohio

2012 Fiction Winner

Andrew Krivak - The Sojourn

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“The Sojourn came out of the stories my grandmother and my mother (her name was Irene, which means “peace”) told of a time and a place in “the old country” during the Great War, when peace was not easily found, yet men and women lived and died hoping for it.

“So, when I sat down to write my first novel, I decided that it would be a story around that war, but also about that peace and those small acts of surrender in people’s lives that become profound moments of salvation. To have this small act of a book honored with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is humbling, and beyond my greatest expectations.”

— Andrew Krivak                        

Bio

Andrew Krivak is the author of the novel The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, Krivak grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in London, and now lives with his wife and three children in Massachusetts where he teaches in the Arts and Sciences Honors Program at Boston College.

Visit his web site at www.andrewkrivak.com.

Citation

This splendid first novel that comes in under 200 pages, but tells a much larger story, a story — yes, let’s invoke Tolstoy — of war and peace.

Krivak’s main character, an American born Slovak boy named Jozef Vinich, comes into the world on the western frontier at the turn of the 20th century, but because of a fateful accident, gets whisked back to the old country by his Slovakian father. There in the cold mountains of the Austria-Hungarian empire, Jozef learns the ways and wiles of a hardscrabble life and discovers his gift for sharpshooting. He volunteers to go to war– this is World War I, of course– and finds himself on the other side of the front from that Italian army most American readers know best from Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

Though this compact and powerful novel never so much celebrates war as it does the power of the mind to recall it and the power of language that can describe it, which is the beginning of the making of peace. Sharpshooter Jozef’s winter sojourn in the battle ravaged mountains of his homeland is truly a story that celebrates, in its stripped down but resonant fashion, the flow between creation and destruction we all call life.

— Alan Cheuse & April Smith
2012 finalist judge


Book Excerpt


One morning as I looked down at the river flowing below through a valley already turning into a tapestry of greens, yellows, and whites as far as the blue of the Adriatic, and back to the still snow-capped and windblown mountain range behind, rising sheer and all at once far into the Alps, I realized that I had no desire and no drive to fight anymore, no rage at having been wronged somehow, no belief in the right and purpose of kings. I only longed to turn back and climb and begin life all over again in a place where I might find the peace I once knew in mountains of another time and another place, and I wondered once again – if I could slip out of camp unobserved – if I just might be able to stay hidden and uncaptured until this war came to an end.

[Excerpt from The Sojourn. Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Krivak. Published by Bellevue Literary Press: www.blpress.org. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.]

2012 Fiction Runner-up

Ha Jin - Nanjing Requiem

“Words alone might not produce peace, but a literary work ought to celebrate the goodness of humanity while describing the destruction and losses due to its absence. We write not only to tell a story but also to reduce the violence within ourselves and others. A book has no greater role than to serve the purpose of promoting peace.”

— Ha Jin              

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Bio

Ha Jin grew up in mainland China and came to the United States in 1985 to do graduate work at Brandeis University. Since 1990 he began to write in English. To date, he has published three volumes of poetry, Between Silences (1990) and Facing Shadows (1996), Wreckage (2001); and four books of short fiction, Ocean of Words (1996), which received the PEN/Hemingway Award; Under the Red Flag (1997), which received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, The Bridegroom (2000), which received The Asian American Literary Award (2001) and the Townsend Fiction Prize (2002), and A Good Fall (2008). He has also written six novels: In the Pond (1998); Waiting (1999), which received the National Book Award (1999 and the PEN/Faulkner Award (2004), The Crazed (2002), War Trash (2004, the PEN/Faulkner Award, 2005), A Free Life (2007), and Nanjing Requiem (2011), which won the Taofeng Prize given by Nanjing Public Library. His book of essays, The Writer as Migrant, was published in 2008. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

Currently he is a professor of English at Boston University and lives in the Boston area.


Book Excerpt


The day of her departure was wet and a little chilly, though spring was at its peak—trees all green, flowers in clusters, the ground velvety with sprouting grass, and the air atremble with trills poured by birds. About a dozen people gathered at the front gate to see her off, mostly her friends and colleagues. I burst into tears and wailed, “Minnie, you must come back. Remember, you and I planned to spend our last years here together. You promised to teach me how to drive.” Beside me stood Donna and Rulian, their teary eyes fastened on Minnie. Beyond the two young women was Old Liao, staring at her, his neck stretched forward and his bronzed face taut, as if he was trying hard to comprehend what was going on.

Citation

In Ha Jin’s masterful narrative, the Rape of Nanjing becomes a story of faith and suffering as can only be experienced by women in war. Told through the eyes of a female Chinese administrator at Jingling Women’s College, it is a compelling portrait of her boss, the enigmatic Minnie Vautrin, a real-life American missionary and dean, who committed suicide years after surviving the vicious occupation by the Japanese.

In the face of insurmountable odds, Minnie sheltered and fed 10,000 refugee women and children inside the college walls, and attended to the needs of rape victims with prescient sensitivity. Ha Jin shows effective restraint in conveying the mindless atrocities that are endemic to invading armies, as well as the long-term consequences. His crystal-clear prose and deeply felt passion convey the poignant heroism of fighting for humane values in the heat of war.

— Alan Cheuse & April Smith
2012 finalist judge

2012 Nonfiction Winner

Adam Hochschild - To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

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“Almost every war begins with the expectation of a swift and easy victory that will solve a problem. Seldom does this happen. This was the illusion that drove the world into war in 1914, and that has driven the United States into two disastrous wars in the last decade. Can we learn from history? I hope so–that’s why I keep writing it.”

— Adam Hochschild

Bio

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. His first book, Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son, was published in 1986. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times called it “an extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love . . . firmly grounded in the specifics of a particular time and place, conjuring them up with Proustian detail and affection.” It was followed by The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey, The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin, and Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa was a finalist for the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award. It also won a J. Anthony Lukas award in the United States, and the Duff Cooper Prize in England.

His Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN USA Literary Award. His most recent book, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. For the body of his work he has received a Lannan Literary Award, the Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award of the American Historical Association, and a 2012 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His books have been translated into fourteen languages.

In addition to his books, Hochschild has written for The New Yorker, Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, Granta, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and many other newspapers and magazines. He was a cofounder of Mother Jones magazine and is a teacher of narrative writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He and his wife, sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild, have two sons and two granddaughters.

Citation

Adam Hochschild’s To End All Wars is a seminal, compelling narrative about the Great War. As in all of Hochschild’s previous books, the writing is rich, luminous, uncompromisingly researched, and compassionate. If each of us is complicated—and we are—the characters in To End All Wars seem worthy of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Hochschild’s writing, at its best, interprets the world with the perspicuity of Anton Chekhov’s finest stories. Integrating the complicated lives of the war’s generals, Sir James French and Douglas Haig, and the narratives of courageous anti-war protestors like Charlotte Despard, Stephen Hobhouse, and Sylvia Pankhurst, Hochschild provides a trenchant analysis of what the Great War did to Britain, to its families, and to world history. For as Hochschild shows, the Great War helped precipitate Stalinism, World War II, and the Holocaust. And it was also the beginning, sadly, of new-fangled machines of destruction, of a time when, as Hochschild writes, “the magnetic attraction of combat, or at least the belief that it was patriotic and necessary, proved so much stronger than revulsion at mass death.”

All who think and write about war hearken brought back to the famous poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” with its brutal depiction of wartime misconduct; but the Great War, as Hochschild shows, provides examples of command ineptitude and arrogance unparalleled in battlefield experience. Generals French and Haig were, to put it kindly, self-righteous fools, willing to kill hundreds of thousands of men to abet their egos. Hochschild’s detailing of their willful disregard of the truths of modern warfare, their inability to understand what a machine gun and barbed wire might do to an army of ill-protected infantry, all of this is hard to fathom. And yet one million men died because of such misguided vanity. Hochschild’s descriptions of the Battle of Somme, with its mind-numbing litany of human savagery, is one of the most powerful and painful in memory, and yet this is only the first day:

Of the 120,000 British Troops who went into battle on July 1, 1916, more than 57,000 were dead or wounded before the day was over—nearly two casualties for every yard of the front. Nineteen thousand were killed, most of them within the attack’s first disastrous hour, and some 2,000 more who were badly wounded would die in hospitals later. There were an estimated 8,000 German casualties. As usual, the toll was heaviest among the officers. Three-quarters of whom were killed or wounded.

Book Excerpt


The war left what Churchill called a “crippled, broken world.” The full death toll cannot be known, because several of the governments keeping track of casualties had dissolved in chaos or revolution by the war’s end. Even by the most conservative of the official tabulations—one made by the U.S. War Department six years later—more than 8.5 million soldiers were killed on all fronts. Most other counts are higher, usually by about a million. “Every day one meets saddened women, with haggard faces and lethargic movements, the writer Beatrice Webb noted in her diary a week after the Armistice, “and one dare not ask after husband or son.” And the deaths did not end with the war: the Times continued to run its “Roll of Honour” each day for months afterward as men died of their wounds. Except in a handful of lucky neutral countries, on virtually every street in Europe could be found households in mourning where, in Wilfred Owen’s words, “each slow dusk” was like “a drawing-down of blinds.”
How men could advance against machine guns, die in plague-like numbers, and still soldier on is at the center of the book — and yet it is to Hochschild’s credit that we can understand how an army, and a world, can seemingly go insane. And as Hochschild reminds, this was a war where the upper classes died in extraordinary numbers — a war where nearly one third of the eligible males in Britain were killed.

And yet if war is undeniable folly, not all men and women charge madly to its call. Hochschild brilliantly describes those who chose the path of war resistance and pacifism, including Sylvia Pankhurst, whose courage rivals that of Sojourner Truth. Hochschild writes sympathetically of the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell who fights the dangers of jingoism and warmongering with a nearly incomprehensible output of well-reasoned treatises. It is he, in a deft program of political persuasion, who saves a group of pacifists from execution. And there is also the poignant narrative of Stephen Hobhouse who, though sentenced to solitary confinement, dared to speak to his fellow prisoners, even though it was not permitted. Hobhouse’s Quaker beliefs necessitated that he must speak to others, for his acknowledgment of their humanity was tantamount to celebrating God’s presence in each of us. For him, there was no subterfuge permitted in his actions — he would openly oppose evil.

In one of the most beautiful passages in To End All Wars, in the middle of the Somme stalemate, amongst the horrible litany of death and dying, the German and British troops meet for an “improvised Christmas truce,” playing soccer, singing carols, even cutting one another’s hair. As Hochchild writes “Later in the day, a German juggler who had been onstage in London before the war gave a bravura performance; soldiers from both sides chased and caught hares running between the trenches. Men from the Cheshire Regiment slaughtered a pig, cooked it in no man’s land, and shared it with the Germans, and some Saxon troops rolled a barrel of beer over their parapet and into eager British hands.”

I can’t do justice to this superb book in this short précis. I can only thank Adam Hochschild for writing it. When the Great War propagandist and jingoist Rudyard Kipling’s son dies in the war, Kipling and his wife Carrie, like any father and mother, became distraught. However grand Kipling’s paeans to the war effort, his loss is unendurable, and Hochschild makes us confront every parent’s worst fear. As Hochschild knows, we may fight in numbers, but we grieve alone.

As the world is presently engaged in numerous wars (be they in Afghanistan, Syria, or Darfur), To End All Wars becomes indispensable. Please read it, and please work towards peace.

-Ken McClane
2012 finalist judge

Citation

Adam Hochschild’s To End All Wars is a seminal, compelling narrative about the Great War. As in all of Hochschild’s previous books, the writing is rich, luminous, uncompromisingly researched, and compassionate. If each of us is complicated—and we are—the characters in To End All Wars seem worthy of Shakespeare’s King Lear and Hochschild’s writing, at its best, interprets the world with the perspicuity of Anton Chekhov’s finest stories. Integrating the complicated lives of the war’s generals, Sir James French and Douglas Haig, and the narratives of courageous anti-war protestors like Charlotte Despard, Stephen Hobhouse, and Sylvia Pankhurst, Hochschild provides a trenchant analysis of what the Great War did to Britain, to its families, and to world history. For as Hochschild shows, the Great War helped precipitate Stalinism, World War II, and the Holocaust. And it was also the beginning, sadly, of new-fangled machines of destruction, of a time when, as Hochschild writes, “the magnetic attraction of combat, or at least the belief that it was patriotic and necessary, proved so much stronger than revulsion at mass death.”

All who think and write about war hearken brought back to the famous poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” with its brutal depiction of wartime misconduct; but the Great War, as Hochschild shows, provides examples of command ineptitude and arrogance unparalleled in battlefield experience. Generals French and Haig were, to put it kindly, self-righteous fools, willing to kill hundreds of thousands of men to abet their egos. Hochschild’s detailing of their willful disregard of the truths of modern warfare, their inability to understand what a machine gun and barbed wire might do to an army of ill-protected infantry, all of this is hard to fathom. And yet one million men died because of such misguided vanity. Hochschild’s descriptions of the Battle of Somme, with its mind-numbing litany of human savagery, is one of the most powerful and painful in memory, and yet this is only the first day:

Of the 120,000 British Troops who went into battle on July 1, 1916, more than 57,000 were dead or wounded before the day was over—nearly two casualties for every yard of the front. Nineteen thousand were killed, most of them within the attack’s first disastrous hour, and some 2,000 more who were badly wounded would die in hospitals later. There were an estimated 8,000 German casualties. As usual, the toll was heaviest among the officers. Three-quarters of whom were killed or wounded.

How men could advance against machine guns, die in plague-like numbers, and still soldier on is at the center of the book — and yet it is to Hochschild’s credit that we can understand how an army, and a world, can seemingly go insane. And as Hochschild reminds, this was a war where the upper classes died in extraordinary numbers — a war where nearly one third of the eligible males in Britain were killed.

And yet if war is undeniable folly, not all men and women charge madly to its call. Hochschild brilliantly describes those who chose the path of war resistance and pacifism, including Sylvia Pankhurst, whose courage rivals that of Sojourner Truth. Hochschild writes sympathetically of the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell who fights the dangers of jingoism and warmongering with a nearly incomprehensible output of well-reasoned treatises. It is he, in a deft program of political persuasion, who saves a group of pacifists from execution. And there is also the poignant narrative of Stephen Hobhouse who, though sentenced to solitary confinement, dared to speak to his fellow prisoners, even though it was not permitted. Hobhouse’s Quaker beliefs necessitated that he must speak to others, for his acknowledgment of their humanity was tantamount to celebrating God’s presence in each of us. For him, there was no subterfuge permitted in his actions — he would openly oppose evil.

In one of the most beautiful passages in To End All Wars, in the middle of the Somme stalemate, amongst the horrible litany of death and dying, the German and British troops meet for an “improvised Christmas truce,” playing soccer, singing carols, even cutting one another’s hair. As Hochchild writes “Later in the day, a German juggler who had been onstage in London before the war gave a bravura performance; soldiers from both sides chased and caught hares running between the trenches. Men from the Cheshire Regiment slaughtered a pig, cooked it in no man’s land, and shared it with the Germans, and some Saxon troops rolled a barrel of beer over their parapet and into eager British hands.”

I can’t do justice to this superb book in this short précis. I can only thank Adam Hochschild for writing it. When the Great War propagandist and jingoist Rudyard Kipling’s son dies in the war, Kipling and his wife Carrie, like any father and mother, became distraught. However grand Kipling’s paeans to the war effort, his loss is unendurable, and Hochschild makes us confront every parent’s worst fear. As Hochschild knows, we may fight in numbers, but we grieve alone.

As the world is presently engaged in numerous wars (be they in Afghanistan, Syria, or Darfur), To End All Wars becomes indispensable. Please read it, and please work towards peace.

-Ken McClane
2012 finalist judge


Book Excerpt


The war left what Churchill called a “crippled, broken world.” The full death toll cannot be known, because several of the governments keeping track of casualties had dissolved in chaos or revolution by the war’s end. Even by the most conservative of the official tabulations—one made by the U.S. War Department six years later—more than 8.5 million soldiers were killed on all fronts. Most other counts are higher, usually by about a million. “Every day one meets saddened women, with haggard faces and lethargic movements, the writer Beatrice Webb noted in her diary a week after the Armistice, “and one dare not ask after husband or son.” And the deaths did not end with the war: the Times continued to run its “Roll of Honour” each day for months afterward as men died of their wounds. Except in a handful of lucky neutral countries, on virtually every street in Europe could be found households in mourning where, in Wilfred Owen’s words, “each slow dusk” was like “a drawing-down of blinds.”

2012 Nonfiction Runner-up

Annia Ciezadlo - Day of Honey

“This is an era of forgotten wars. Who talks about Baghdad any more, or Kabul, let alone Beirut or Gaza or Benghazi? But even after the television crews have moved on to the next war, people still have to cook dinner, wash dishes, get their kids to school. That’s the real war, the one they don’t show on TV. And that is why I’m so grateful for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize: books can bring us into those invisible wars, show us those hidden lives, and help us remember why we try to avoid war in the first place.”

— Annia Ciezadlo             

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Bio

Born in Chicago, Annia Ciezadlo grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. She received her Master’s in journalism from New York University in 2000. In late 2003, she left New York for Baghdad, where she worked as a stringer for The Christian Science Monito and other publications for the next year. During this time, she wrote groundbreaking stories, about parliamentary quotas for women, Baghdad’s graffiti wars, militant Islamist poetry slams, the flight of the country’s Christian minority, and Iraq’s first reality TV show. Her first-person piece on what it’s like to go through checkpoints in Baghdad earned a flood of responses, and is now used by the US military to help prevent civilian casualties. Since then, she has reported on revolutions in Lebanon, crackdowns in Syria, repression in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the 2006 “summer war” between Israel and Hezbollah. Although she has covered several wars, Annia does not describe herself as a war correspondent. She specializes in articles about Arab culture and civil society, stories that explore the intersections between larger political realities and everyday activities like driving, cooking, and going to school.

She has written about culture, politics, and the Middle East for The New Republic, The Nation, The Washington Post, the National Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Observer, and Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper. Annia lives somewhere between New York and Beirut, with her husband, the journalist Mohamad Bazzi.


Book Excerpt


Every society has an immune system, a silent army that tries to bring the body politic back to homeostasis. People find ways to reconstruct their daily lives from the shambles of war; like my friend Leena, who once held a dinner party in her Beirut bomb shelter, they work with what they have. This is the story of that other war, the one that takes place in the moments between bombings: the baker keeps the communal oven going so his neighborhood can have bread; the restaurateur converts his café into a refugee center; the farmer feeds his neighbors from his dwindling stock of preserves; the parents drive all over Baghdad trying to find an open bakery so their daughter can have a birthday cake. They are warriors just as much as those who carry guns. There are many ways to save civilization. One of the simplest is with food.

Citation

Annia Ciezadlo’s Day of Honey is an artfully crafted, precociously wise, always touching – and often hilarious – memoir about an unlikely marriage between a garrulous, food-obsessed “Polish-Greek-Scotch-Irish mutt from working-class Chicago” who will “eat anything,” and her husband, Mohamad, a quiet Lebanese-born Shiite who “refuses to consume: asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, beets; anything cruciferous, pumpkin not in the form of pie; duck; pork; fish of any kind… and anything else that emerges from water; beef that hasn’t been cooked to resemble linoleum; coffee or beer. That is a partial list.” And on this basis alone Day of Honey would be an impressive literary debut.

But Day of Honey is far more than a cross-cultural love story. Annia and Mohamad are war correspondents who honeymooned in Baghdad during the early days of the Iraq War, and spent their next six years in Beirut, where they faced recurring sectarian street combat amongst a shifting array of militias, not to mention a period of intense bombing by the Israelis. And Ciezadlo is an astute observer with a ravenous appreciation of local culture, a sharp eye for human foibles, a matchless ear for dialogue, an exquisitely tuned sense of irony, and an uncanny ability to convey the larger importance of virtually everything she encounters. In her hands, meals and their preparation become the basis for a portrait of daily life in the Middle East more intimate and profound than most foreigners will ever encounter, a lens through which to view 4,000 years of Arabic history and mythology, and a metaphor for the ability of the human spirit to transcend the “unimaginable stress and hardship” of war.

The book’s title is derived from an Arabic proverb, “Day of honey, day of onions.” It means “some days will be good, and some days will be bad,” Ciezadlo explains, and in her pages, we meet unforgettable characters who persevere through both: an Iraqi intellectual overwhelmed by the beauty of Chicken Soup for the Soul; a professional “squeegee man of mourning” who crashes funerals and keens until relatives of the deceased pay him to leave; a Beirut restaurateur who serves up “fruit cocktails named after Hitler, Castro, Noriega, and Nelson Mandela;” Ciezadlo’s friend Leena, who hosts a dinner party in her Beirut bomb shelter; and, most memorable of all, the author’s indomitable mother-in-law, Umm Hassane, who, when her furniture is stolen by rampaging Amal militiamen, thinks nothing about browbeating their leader in an attempt to make them return it. “Auntie, they didn’t know it was your house,” he pleads, and in the face of her unrelenting onslaught, he offers a compromise: her chairs and tables are long gone, but his men will happily rob someone else’s home and give her the victim’s furniture. (“She declined,” Ciezadlo notes.)

“Most civilians experience war not as the fighters and victims that parade across television screens, but as tired housewives peeling potatoes and wondering, all the while, at the stupidity of it all,” Annia Ciezadlo concludes. “And so this book is not about the ever-evolving ways in which people kill or die during wars but about how they live before, during, and after those wars. It’s about the millions of small ways people cope… about how they survive.”

One of the most affecting passages in Day of Honey concerns the chef in a near-deserted Iraqi hotel restaurant who chooses “at a moment in late May 2004 – during the Mahdi Army uprising, the first Marine assault on Fallujah, and the Abu Ghraib court-martials – to make a chicken roulade stuffed with cream sauce. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Why make such a beautiful thing at a time like this?’ He shrugged. An expression of pride and despair, half way between a smile and a sigh, flickered across his face. ‘It’s what I do,’ he said.”

– Christopher Cerf
2012 finalist judge

2012 Finalists

Fiction

Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin (Pantheon Books)

The award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash returns to his homeland in a searing new novel that unfurls during one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century: the Rape of Nanjing.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)

A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of poverty in rural Mississippi, Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award for fiction.

Shards by Ismet Prcic (Grove Atlantic)

A harrowing coming-of-age novel about a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, who flees his war-torn homeland and struggles to reconcile his past with his present life in California.

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf)

The Cat’s Table is a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood, and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage from Sri Lanka to London.

The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (Riverhead)

The Grief of Others is a beautifully moving family drama about love, loss and healing in the aftermath of a newborn’s death.

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (Bellevue Literary Press)

A stirring novel of brotherhood, survival, and coming-of-age during World War One.

Nonfiction

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead (HarperCollins)

A Train in Winter tells the tale of 230 French women who were sent to Auschwitz for daring to oppose the Nazis, offering a fascinating glimpse of a little-known chapter in the history of World War II.

Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo (Free Press)

Day of Honey is a beautifully written, fiercely intelligent memoir exploring the heightened meaning of cooking in war-torn Baghdad and Beirut.

Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee (The Perseus Books Group)

In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together — and together they led a nation to peace.

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Hochschild brings World War I to life as never before by focusing on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes.

What Is It Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Grove/Atlantic)

Marlantes draws on his own experiences during and after the Vietnam War in this deeply personal and candid look at the ordeal of combat and its aftermath on the individuals who endure it.

2012 Finalist Judges

Fiction

Alan Cheuse

is a writer and critic who for nearly three decades has been known as the “voice of books” on National Public Radio, and he has emerged over those years as a writer in his own right, the author of numerous novels and story collections, a memoir, a collection of travel essays, and a book of critical essays. Alan has edited several anthologies, brought out essays, reviews, articles, and short stories in national magazines and newspapers, and, with novelist and essayist Nicholas Delbanco, he recently published a major new literature text-book — Literature: Craft & Voice.

Alan has served on National Book Award and Pulitzer juries, won honors of his own from the National Endowment of the Arts and elsewhere. His 2008 novel To Catch the Lightning won the Boston-based Grub Street National Prize for Fiction, and he currently serves as University Professor at George Mason University and as a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

His recent books are Song of Slaves in the Desert (a novel) and Paradise, Or, Eat Your Face (a trio of novellas).

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.

Nonfiction

Christopher Cerf

is an author, editor, composer-lyricist, record and television producer, and co-founder and president of the educational media production company, Sirius Thinking, Ltd. Cerf has won three Emmys and two Grammys for his musical contributions to Sesame Street (for which he has written over 300 songs since the show’s debut in 1970); spent eight years as a senior editor at Random House, where he worked with such diverse authors as George Plimpton, Andy Warhol, Ray Bradbury, Abbie Hoffman, and Dr. Seuss; and was a charter contributing editor of National Lampoon. In 1993, Cerf renewed his ties to Random House when he assumed the role of Chairman of the Modern Library’s Board of Advisors.

Cerf’s newest book, co-authored by Henry Beard, is Encyclopedia Paranoica, an “alphabetized, intensively cross-referenced, guide to everyone and everything you should be afraid of or worried about.” It will be published by Simon & Schuster on November 20 – that is, if the world doesn’t end before that date.

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.

2012 Awards Ceremony

The 2012 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 11th, 2012, 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 2012 Award Ceremony!

Richard C. Holbrooke Award Tim O’Brien

Fiction Award Andrew Krivak for The Sojourn

Nonfiction Award Adam Hochschild for To End All Wars

Fiction Runner-up Ha Jin for Nanjing Requiem

Nonfiction Runner-up Annia Ciezadlo for Day of Honey

Additional Videos

Photos by Andy Snow (andysnow.com) ©2012.

2012 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.