Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2014 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

Louise Erdrich

“I am not a peaceful writer. I am a troubled one, longing for peace. But we are all engaged in a war we hardly dare think of from day to day. As W.S. Merwin wrote, ‘we are melting the very poles of the earth.’ By allowing fossil fuel corporations to control earth’s climate and toxify pure water, we are visiting wars of scarcity upon our children, our generations. Indigenous people are in the front lines because our lands are remote, vulnerable, and often energy rich. I am honored to accept this prize so that I can speak to how we can define our possibilities — we can still astonish history. Peace depends on clean water for everyone, rich and poor, clean energy for everyone, rich and poor. Most of all peace depends upon our collective will to resist our own destruction.”

— Louise Erdrich                        

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Louise Erdrich is a native of North Dakota, where she was raised by her Ojibwe-French mother and German-American father. She is the author of fourteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award, and The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Her novel Love Medicine won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

Read the full press release

Louise Erdrich wins PEN/Saul Bellow Award for fiction (Sept. 9, 2014)
[Learn more from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.]  

Book Excerpt


When the birds descended, both Indians and whites set up great bonfires and tried driving them into nets. The doves ate the wheat seedlings and the rye and started on the corn. They ate the sprouts of new flowers and the buds of apples and the tough leaves of oak trees and even last year’s chaff. The doves were plump, and delicious smoked, but one could wring the necks of hundreds or thousands and effect no visible diminishment of their number. The pole-and-mud houses of the mixed-bloods and the bark huts of the blanket Indians were crushed by the weight of the birds. They were roasted, burnt, baked up in pies, stewed, salted down in barrels, or clubbed dead with sticks and left to rot. But the dead only fed the living and each morning when the people woke it was to the scraping and beating of wings, the murmurous susurration, the awful cooing babble, and the sight, to those who still possessed intact windows, of the curious and gentle faces of those creatures. 

This boy was to become my mother’s father, my Mooshum. Seraph Milk was his given name, and since he lived to be over one hundred, I was present and about eleven years old during the time he told and retold the story of the most momentous day of his life, which began with this attempt to vanquish the plague of doves. He sat on a hard chair, between our first television and the small alcove of bookshelves set into the wall of our government-owned house on the Bureau of Indian Affairs reservation tract. Mooshum would tell us he could hear the scratching of the doves’ feet as they climbed all over the screens of sticks that his brother had made. He dreaded the trip to the out-house, where many of the birds had gotten mired in the filth beneath the hole and set up a screeching clamor of despair that drew their kind to throw themselves against the hut in rescue attempts. Yet he did not dare relieve himself anywhere else. So through flurries of wings, shuffling so as not to step on their feet or backs, he made his way to the out-house and completed his necessary actions with his eyes shut. Leaving, he tied the door closed so that no other doves would be trapped. 

The out-house drama, always the first in the momentous day, was filled with the sort of detail that my brother and I found interesting. The out-house, well-known to us although we now had plumbing, and the horror of the birds’ death by excrement, as well as other features of the story’s beginning, gripped our attention. Mooshum was our favorite indoor entertainment, next to the television. But our father had removed the television’s knobs and hidden them. Although we made constant efforts, we never found the knobs and came to believe that he carried them upon his person at all times. So we listened to our Mooshum instead. While he talked, we sat on kitchen chairs and twisted our hair. Our mother had given him a red coffee can for spitting snoose. He wore soft, worn, green Sears work clothes, a pair of battered brown lace-up boots, and a twill cap, even in the house. His eyes shone from slits cut deep into his face. The upper half of his left ear was missing, giving him a lopsided look. He was hunched and dried out, with random wisps of white hair down his ears and neck. From time to time, as he spoke, we glimpsed the murky scraggle of his teeth. Still, such was his conviction in the telling of this story that it wasn’t hard at all to imagine him at twelve.


Over the past three decades, Louise Erdrich has become one of the most widely-read and influential contemporary American Indian writers. As the author of fourteen adult novels, in addition to poetry and short fiction, memoir, and books for children and young adults, she is the most prolific, as well. Erdrich is best known for her Matchimanitou, Turtle Mountain, or Little No Horse saga — a series of novels peopled with characters whose fates and families intertwine over the course of a century, on the imagined Little No Horse reservation and in the nearby town of Argus, North Dakota. Faulkneresque in many ways, these novels develop compelling characters, both Anishinaabe (or Ojibwe) and white, whose lives and histories are profoundly intertwined in a tangled web of connections.

Connection — a central theme in Erdrich’s work, and one deeply informed by the author’s indigenous roots — ties Erdrich’s work most directly to the challenge and promise of peace. In the worldview of American Indians, the vastly inclusive context of “all my relations,” or “my relatives,” situates and gives meaning to all life, and it serves as the ground for all ethical action. It is a way of being that recognizes the intimate and endless ways in which our lives as humans are connected to family, clan, and community — but also to the larger human and creaturely families, to the natural world, and all aspects of the cosmos—in what Paula Gunn Allen calls “a sacred hoop of be-ing.” Erdrich’s trickster character Nanapush invokes this in the epigram to Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse, explaining the Ojibwemowin equivalent, “nindinawemaganidok.” In this and other novels, Erdrich’s characters are led, by means of their connections to other, through multiple perspectives, worlds, and layers of reality. As characters orient themselves to an ever-widening sphere, hoop, or spiral of influence, responsibility, and relation, readers are drawn in imaginatively and empathically, and we too become implicated in the circling pattern.

These connections are sought and seen, of course, in the context of centuries of colonialism, violence, and injustice, and Louise Erdrich’s vision is no rosy one. Her work exposes the damage done to indigenous communities and cultures, to individuals, and to women, in particular, by a history of domination and its legacy in the U.S. today. Physical and cultural genocide, war and murder, disease and starvation, theft and betrayal, sexual violence, alcoholism, and poverty: these are all manifest in Erdrich’s world. But while multiple forms of domination have clearly torn at the fabric of relation, Erdrich also presents a model for recognizing and working toward restoration of the relational web. Pulling together resources from her own multiple traditions — Ojibwe and Western, oral and textual, sacred and secular — Erdrich weaves together stories full of humor and pathos that present patterns for healing and wholeness, possibilities for peace.

Sheila Hassell Hughes
Professor of English
University of Dayton

2014 Fiction Winner

Bob Shacochis - The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, wrote Martin Luther King; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, said King; only love can do that. To which I would add, ignorance cannot drive out ignorance; only books can do that. Not every book of course, but books that we recognize as worthy to the claims of literature seduce us into a conspiracy of knowledge and understanding and compassion, the very qualities that are essential to any genuine pursuit of peace. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize asks us to consider that all great literature is subversive–of falsehoods and lies, of violence and aggression, of fear and intolerance, of greed and injustice and the love of power. It is in that artful subversion that we discover our humanity and the voice of our souls.”

— Bob Shacochis                        


Bob Shacochis’s first collection of stories, Easy in the Islands, won the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection, The Next New World, was awarded the Prix de Rome from the Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also the author of the novel Swimming in the Volcano, a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Immaculate Invasion, a work of literary reportage that was a finalist for The New Yorker Literary Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year.

Shacochis is a contributing editor for Outside, and his op-eds on the U.S. military, Haiti, and Florida politics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.


Not without a fair amount of exchange has The Woman Who Lost Her Soul been chosen as the recipient of the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Perhaps that is as it should be. No book that takes seriously as its subject American military intervention, the C.I.A., and incest—both actual and as metaphor—is going to be easy to love; no book that enacts for us how little what we read in the press, even the very concerted and investigative press, has any kind of access to what we might think of as “the truth,” what actually happened, who did what to whom? The epigraph to Book One of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is Winston Churchill: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies,” and at the center of this novel is a bodyguard, Master Sergeant Eville Burnette, a Special Forces commando, and he is “indispensable to the truth of it, inseparable from the truth of it.”

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is sprawling, tentacular, and yet sentence for sentence salient, adamantine. The novel begins narratively in Haiti in 1998, a country on its way to economic recovery thanks in part to American intervention and occupation, and then Haiti 1996, and to establish that, the novel goes back to Croatia 1944 and 1945, and then moves forward to Istanbul 1986, Book Three, “Tradecraft.” Tradecraft indeed as here the novel takes us unhappily to the use of women, a girl really at this point, as both operative and acceptable collateral damage for some greater, collective achievement than the preservation of an individual life, her sanity. Book Four is “The Friends of Golf,” or FOG, if you will, and the novel continues leading up to the time of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The world, the Friends of Golf were fond of saying, is not run from a house on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

At the heart of Book Five, the novel’s final pages, is the issue of security, national security, what it is, how it might be sought, how it might be squandered, how far back in history is the germination and flourishing of threat. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul does what an important novel does best, capture the compromised psychological circuitry of any human endeavor, whether for good or ill. More difficult and disturbing is the novel’s insistence on grounding its story in human perversion when always, in the foreground, is America’s collective intentions, its heralded national character standing upright for freedom and peace.

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul could not be quite as fearful a novel as it is if it was not also deeply anguished. This powerful book engages us scene after scene with stark and stunning moments of real mayhem that work always at the edge of our fragile and many times illusory sense of peace.

— Michelle Latiolais
2014 finalist judge


Book Excerpt

“Then a compulsion to pray became irresistible, and she found herself in a familiar sanctuary, kneeling in St. Luke’s out in Langley with her family, the church packed with a congregation of families much like hers, the ossified OSS crowd and the graying Cold War crowd and the new crowd and her crowd, the spiritually slothful and the divine firebrands, and she bowed her head and prayed, Dear God, I want them all dead, but a modern person could not pray for this. Pray for enlightenment and tolerance, pray for democracy and justice, pray for her father’s salvation. Lord, forgive me, I am a deadly wayfarer, the means by which sin enters this world, the vessel willing to carry forth the corruption. Is it true, Lord, only angels can fight the devil? Has that worked well for you, Lord? I stand and face your enemy. What shall you have me regret? My father, Father? Where is the time for that? Would you replace my hate with nihilism, oh Lord? What shall you have me sacrifice–but it was never a question of how far she’d go. Kill them all, she prayed, and paused, reconsidering a possible correction, a potentially definitive flaw in her understanding – perhaps a soul is what you have spent your life making, not a piece of metaphysical equipment shipped ready-made from the factory, another myth like original sin, which you were outfitted with at birth and could somehow lose, like men high and low somehow lost their humanity – and so she prayed that no god was listening, she prayed she hadn’t been heard. At last she prayed, We must be patient until love turns.”

Articles about the book and the author

2014 Fiction Runner-up

Margaret Wrinkle - Wash

“Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, the place Reverend Shuttlesworth called “the citadel of segregation,” taught me that competing truths never want to stand too close to one another. But reading and writing fiction enables us to bring these competing truths together on equal footing, to hold them close until they start to shimmer, until they begin to weave themselves into one whole story that can carry us toward healing. I am moved by the very existence of the DaytonLiterary Peace Prize and it is deeply heartening to see Wash celebrated for the exact reason that compelled me to write it.”

— Margaret Wrinkle              

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Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Margaret Wrinkle is a writer, filmmaker, educator, and visual artist. Her award-winning documentary, broken\ground, about the racial divide in her historically conflicted hometown, was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition and it won the Council on Foundations Film Festival. She lives in New Mexico.


Book Excerpt

A flock of blackbirds arrives in a cloud like music then settles in the treetops, falling quiet and disappearing into the stillness of its roost, but only for a moment before some internal disagreement, or maybe a hawk, sends them on again. All those small single bickering birds pour from their separate roosts, woven by movement back into one living breathing thing.

In that moment of seeing them fall in and out of moving together, Pallas knows, as clear and sure as a footprint, how things are and have always been. She sees that all of them, her and Wash, his mamma and Rufus and Phoebe, and even all those white folks, good and bad, here and gone, all of them are and have always been part of this one living breathing thing, moving through a time and a space bigger than any of them ever knew.


Toward the end of Margaret Wrinkle’s stunning debut novel, Wash, the healer, Pallas, considers the simultaneous absence and presence of the title character in the years following his death. Wash, a slave owned by a discontented Revolutionary War veteran, worked as a breeding sire and labored, too, to maintain his dignity and his humanity. His true love, Pallas, sees him now in all the children around her, the children he fathered. She sees that everyone is all of one fabric: “…even those white folks, good and bad, here and gone, all of them are and always have been part of this one living breathing thing, moving through a time and a space bigger than any of them ever knew.”

It is the expansive and generous spirit of this novel that finds room within the horrors of slavery for an understanding of how this unfortunate institution came to be while never neglecting the complicated lives of the people involved, both black and white. Margaret Wrinkle, in prose that is by turns lyrical and gritty, patiently unfolds this story of transcendence. Wash is an unforgettable character, a heroic character, who rises above the ugliness of his circumstances. This is a genuinely American story that reminds us of our common humanity. Margaret Wrinkle has written a book that takes us further in our understanding of the political and cultural factors at work in the individual life while also calling attention to the importance of each man and woman who resists becoming what governments, institutions, and other people have insisted he or she be.

This powerful and beautifully written novel leaves us with the image of Pallas watching a flock of birds on the wing and this thought: “She feels her heart swell and contract right along with that flock breathing in the sky and she knows, just as sure as the shape of her own hands, we are all of us one thing. All here, all connected, all the time, regardless.”

Exactly. This is a novel sprung from a well-spring of immense artistry, a willingness to journey into darkness in order to come back to the light. Wash haunts us with its clearly-told tale and its reminder of what we share that can, no matter the depth of that darkness, redeem us and allow us to live with a peaceful heart.

— Lee Martin
2014 finalist judge

2014 Nonfiction Winner

Karima Bennoune - Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism

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“Winning the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction for Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism is deeply meaningful – especially now – because the prize recognizes the unfathomable courage shown by so many people of Muslim heritage around the world – from Iraq to my father’s home country Algeria and beyond – in their often life-threatening struggles against extremism. These are the stories told in the book, and in our turbulent times such critical voices of tolerance and hope from Muslim majority societies must be heard internationally, but often are not. The DLPP is making an invaluable contribution to changing that. Given the mission of the prize, there is no other award that would mean more to me or to so many of those in the book – victims of terror who organized against its perpetrators, women who filled bomb craters with flowers, journalists who defied machine guns armed only with pens, artists who could not be censored by death threats (or worse), feminists who demanded the right to have human rights, secularists who spoke out, mullahs who risked their lives to revive the enlightened Islam of our grandparents. I share the prize with all of them. For me, the award is ultimately a much-needed recognition that fundamentalism is a threat to peace, and that those who challenge extremism and jihadist violence in their own communities are waging a battle for true peace, and deserve global recognition and support. That is the message I tried to get across in Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here. I am sincerely grateful to the selection committee and to the organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for helping to share this message by selecting the book, and I am honored to receive this very special prize.”

— Karima Bennoune


Karima Bennoune is a professor of international law at the University of California–Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States and now lives in northern California.


In Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Karima Bennoune walks a tightrope between, on the one hand, the tragic consequences of Islamist fundamentalism and, on the other, the West’s inability to imagine Muslims as anything more than terrorists or passive victims. Her solution is to tell us the stories that disturb both of these stereotypes, vividly presenting us the experiences of individuals from a vast array of identities and social positions — as women, as journalists, as educators, as makers of and keepers of cultural tradition. She conjures what those of us living inside the Western media bubble have never seen before: a dizzingly diverse Muslim culture (that is no more cohesive than, say, that global cohort labeled “Christians”) represented by a bevy of activists from across the globe determined to realize their personal and communal desire beyond fundamentalist strictures.

This is a book that bears out the famous feminist dictum that the “personal is political.” For years a human rights lawyer and today a professor of international law at UC Davis, Bennoune begins by telling of the night at her family’s home in Algiers when a loud pounding on the door announced the arrival of a very real threat to the life of her father, a scholar and an outspoken critic of both the government and religious fundamentalists who opposed it. The year was 1993 and intellectuals were regular targets of deadly violence, including a colleague of Bennoune’s father. She ran to the kitchen, armed herself with a paring knife, and stood next to her father in the entryway. They refused to open the door and the would-be assailants eventually went away.

“That moment,” writes Bennoune, “set me on the path to write this book.”

At first glance it would seem that we’re all quite familiar with the topic at hand. We routinely hear the term “Muslim fundamentalist,” the terms continuously conjoined, connoting cause and effect. But Bennoune’s subject is actually a largely invisible one. If we go by popular Western media, it would seem that the fight against Muslim fundamentalism is the lonely cause of the West, a war of Civilization over Terror. But the portraits in Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here find Muslims on the front lines against the fundamentalists. A theater company in Pakistan puts on performances even after a bombing sent glass flying into the audience. Afghanistan’s first female chief prosecutor, protected by 23 bodyguards, investigates Taliban violence against women after an attack that nearly killed her children. And though she does not claim to be a protagonist herself, by writing this book Bennoune does indeed join the brave company of those she writes about.

A secular Arab alienated by fundamentalism who, through the process of researching this book achieves a kind of reconcilation with many aspects of her cultural heritage, Bennoune undertakes a project of epic scope. She conducts interviews in France, Algeria, Niger, Paksitan, Turkey, several destinations in Russia, Palestine/Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Senegal, Afghanistan, Canada, and Mali. In addition, she writes, “I met with Somali and Iranian refugees in the United States and in Europe. I skyped women acdtivists in Saudi Arabia and Sudan and csonulted vistors from Iraq, Turkey and Malaysia.”

Throughout, Bennoune displays a first rate literary sensibility, with finely detailed profiles that cast the reader deep into the point of view of her subjects. We receive necessary historical context, nuanced political analysis, brisk narrative, and just the right balance between the author’s subjectivity and writerly distance. Bennoune is acutely aware of the ethical problems inherent in literary representations and the particular ramifications of rendering her subjects in the midst of a global conflict where all sides employ stereotype for the sake of advancing their agendas. At all costs, she wants to avoid victimizing those who’ve already been victimized.

Born and raised in Algeria and the United States, Karima Bennoune bridges cultures, languages, histories and is in a perfect position to reveal what she calls “one of the most overlooked human rights struggles in the world.”

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here is a timely and eloquent call to support those who fight against Muslim fundamentalism — and for the West to recognize its complicity in its rise, to recognize its own brand of fundamentalism in the way it reduces the Muslim other. It is not an easy path towards peace, but quite possibly the only one.

– Rubén Martínez
2014 finalist judges


Book Excerpt

Algerian newspaper publisher Omar Belhouchet went to the town of Blida on February 11, 1996, to attend the funeral of a reporter who had been assassinated by fundamentalists. Given the danger, he was the only journalist there to mourn with the family. Afterward, as Belhouchet drove back to Tahar Djaout Press House in Algiers, he could see smoke rising near the offices of his paper, El Watan (The Nation).

The second fundamentalist bomb to hit the headquarters of Algerian journalism in the 1990s had just detonated. Its force manifested the countless fatwas against the press. The scene was apocalyptic. Belhouchet decided right then that, in honor of those who had died at their desks, he and his surviving colleagues would get the next day’s editions out, no matter what. Though it had killed eighteen and wounded fifty-two of their colleagues and neighbors, a booby-trapped Peugeot J5 van could not stop the journalists of Algeria. “Tomorrow,” the publisher told his haggard staff, “the newspapers must appear.”

Karima Bennoune's TED Talk

2014 Nonfiction Runner-up

Jo Roberts - Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel's Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe

“The identity of a nation is rooted in its collective memory, and the collective memories of peoples, like the private memories of individuals, often calcify around a remembered trauma. Understanding and acknowledging the wounds and scars of each other’s histories is critical to any genuine reconciliation and peace.”

— Jo Roberts             

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Trained in her native England as a lawyer and anthropologist, Jo Roberts is now a freelance writer. For five years she was managing editor of the New York Catholic Worker newspaper, to which she frequently contributed. Her reportage from Israel and from the West Bank has appeared in Embassy, Canada’s foreign policy weekly. She lives in Toronto, Canada.


Book Excerpt

How is a community to make sense of its shattering by a shared disaster? The myriad individual tragedies out of which it is constituted both bind and separate its members. Too terrible to be remembered, it is also too terrible to forget. New generations grow up, often in the anguished silence of their elders, trying to make sense of a trauma which they never experienced but yet has indelibly shaped and scarred them.

Trauma gets stuck in the craw of the collective memory, half-digested, painful, refusing to be ingested or expelled. It shapes the climate of the everyday, a permanent frost. A traumatized people is a people frozen by the absolute imperative of “Never again!” for whom security, and the control it necessitates, is paramount. For those still trapped in ongoing trauma, such as the Palestinians — stateless, living under occupation or in diaspora, four-tenths of them still in refugee camps — that freezing can turn into a numbed passivity, or into patterns of self-destruction.

Trapped in the present but not of the present, trauma repeats. It lies close to the surface, within easy recall at the slightest provocation of memory, a touchstone against which present events are automatically tested. And, should the victim group become powerful, the trauma may repeat in other ways as, desperate to rid itself of an alien threat, real or perceived, the victim becomes the oppressor.

The Hebrew word Shoah translates into English as “Catastrophe” — as does the Arabic word Nakba. Both Israelis and Palestinians understand their national identities through the collective remembering of a traumatic past.


1948: As Jewish refugees, survivors of the Holocaust, struggle toward the new State of Israel, Arab refugees are fleeing, many under duress. Sixty years later, the memory of trauma has shaped both peoples’ collective understanding of who they are.

After a war, the victors write history. How was the story of the exiled Palestinians erased – from textbooks, maps, even the land? How do Jewish and Palestinian Israelis now engage with the histories of the Palestinian Nakba (“Catastrophe”) and the Holocaust, and how do these echo through the political and physical landscapes of their country?

Vividly narrated, with extensive original interview material, Contested Land, Contested Memory examines how these tangled histories of suffering inform Jewish-and Palestinian-Israeli lives today, and frame Israel’s possibilities for peace. Journalist Jo Roberts brings her training in both law and anthropology to bear, eliciting honest, intimate responses from her numerous informants and vividly portrays the psychological as well as political costs of the continuing conflict.

Contested Land, Contested Memory begins as simple journalism, but quite soon the reader recognizes that she is in the presence of a brilliant feat of juggling – of weaving together oral histories, personal observations, psychological analysis, historical background, and quotations from primary sources into a seamless whole. Gradually I came to realize that everything I had known, much that I had forgotten, and even more that I had never known were not only present, but were being reinterpreted for me in terms beyond those merely personal or political.

Her analysis of the conflict is nuanced and complex, including personal, political, geographic, historical, psychological, and philosophical points of view. She is especially adept in portraying the differences among different generations of Israeli citizens, and how changes from one decade to the next (military events, politics, immigration, religion) have been reflected in the minds of Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis (and Arab-Jewish Israelis). How they see themselves, how they see the past (especially the Shoah and the Nakba), how they see the future of Israel – all these have changed for reasons and in ways not always obvious to outside observers.

Contested Land, Contested Memory will appeal to a variety of audiences, due not only to the importance of this particular conflict but also to the universality of the issues raised: trauma, personal memory, collective memory, nationhood, historic enmities. Jo Roberts’ theories on social suffering and memory narrative resonate across history and culture. Readers from every region in the world will find parallels to their own and gain understanding. As I read, I was applying her analysis to situations with which I am intimately familiar, from post-colonial Africa to recent events in American inner cities. Just as we might be tempted to think there is nothing new to learn about modern Israel and the Palestinian conflict, or that the situation is too intractable for a solution, comes this lyrical and balanced book advocating a path towards reconciliation based on the notion that a fractured relationship can only heal when both parties open themselves to regard the pain of the other.

– Faith Adiele
2014 finalist judges

2014 Finalists


The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (Grove Atlantic)

Renowned for his revelatory visions of the Caribbean, Shacochis sets his magnum opus in four countries over a span of fifty years and multiple wars, creating an intricate portrait of the catastrophic events that led up to the war on terror and the U.S. as it is today.

Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (Grove Atlantic)

Through the character of Wash, a first-generation slave, this haunting first novel explores the often-buried history of slave breeding in the early nineteenth century, offering fresh insights into our continuing racial dilemmas.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Crown Publishing Group)

Two doctors in rural Chechnya risk everything to save the life of a child hunted by Russian soldiers in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together.

In the Night of Time by Antonio Munoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

This sweeping, grand novel set against the tumultuous events that led to the Spanish Civil War offers an indelible portrait of a shattered society.

Someone by Alice McDermott (Farrer, Straus and Giroux)

In this delicate narrative about the life of an ordinary woman, McDermott uses universal experiences—sharp pains and unexpected joys, bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—to deftly arouse deep compassion for the lives unfolding all around us.

The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy (Liverlight Publishing Corporation)

This haunting meditation on family, friendship, and sacrifice charts a deeply felt course from the Nova Scotia coastline to the French trenches during World War I, bridging the distance between past and present, duty and honor, obligation and love.


Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalists by Karima Bennoune (W. W. Norton & Company)

From Karachi to Tunis, Kabul to Tehran, Bennoune shares the inspiring stories of the Muslim writers, artists, doctors, lawyers, activists, and educators who often risk death to combat the rising tide of religious extremism in their own countries.

Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe by Jo Roberts (Dundurn Press, Toronto)

Drawing on extensive original interview material, Canadian journalist Jo Roberts vividly examines how their tangled histories of suffering inform Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli lives today, and frame the possibilities for peace in Israel.

Here on the Edge by Steve McQuiddy (Oregon State University Press)

Packed with original research and more than eighty photos, this definitive history tells the story of the artists at an Oregon camp for World War II conscientious objectors, and how they paved the way for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler (Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster)

Pondering the medical forces that stood in the way of her own parents’ desires for “good deaths,” journalist Katy Butler examines modern medicine’s potential, in its pursuit of maximum longevity, to create more suffering than it prevents.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)

In this universally acclaimed memoir, Ward recounts the separate deaths of five young men – all dear to her – from her small Mississippi community, agonizingly tracing each one back to the long-term effects of racism and economic disadvantage.

Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel follows veterans of the infamous Baghdad “surge” after they return to the U.S., creating an indelible, essential portrait of post-deployment life—not just for the soldiers, but for their families, friends, and the professionals trying to undo the damage of war.

2014 Finalist Judges


Michelle Latiolais

is Professor of English at the University of California at Irvine. She is the author of the novel Even Now which received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. Her second novel, A Proper Knowledge, was published in 2008 by Bellevue Literary Press. She has published writing in three anthologies, Absolute Disaster, Women On The Edge: Writing From Los Angeles and Woof! Writers on Dogs. Her stories and essays have appeared in Zyzzyva, The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, Santa Monica Review, Iowa Review and the Northwest ReviewWidow, a collection of stories, Involutions and essays, was released in January 2011 from Bellevue Literary Press. She has work forthcoming in Zyzzyva, Santa Monica Review and Juked.

Lee Martin

is the author of the novels, The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of Heaven; Quakertown; and Break the Skin. He has also published three memoirs, From Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life. His first book was the short story collection, The Least You Need to Know. He is the co-editor of Passing the Word: Writers on Their Mentors. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper’s, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Glimmer Train. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University, where he is a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and a past winner of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Maureen McCoy

is a longtime professor in the English Department and Program in Creative Writing at Cornell University, is the author of four novels: Walking After Midnight; Summertime; Divining Blood; and Junebug. She has also published numerous short stories and personal essays. Monologues for actors are featured in two anthologies. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, she is the recipient of writing and teaching awards including The James Michener Award. She was selected by Toni Morrison for a two-year position as the Albert Schweitzer Fellow in the Humanities at the State University of New York before beginning teaching at Cornell. She has had residencies at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers, the MacDowell Colony and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. One recent essay, “Vickie’s Pour House: A Soldier’s Peace” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. She is working on a novel and a collection of essays.


Faith Adiele

studied at Harvard University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program; conducted fieldwork in Southeast Asia and West Africa; and served as a Buddhist nun, diversity trainer, immigrant advocate, and community educator. The recipient of a UNESCO International Artists Bursary and Creative Nonfiction’s Millennium Award, she is author of two memoirs: the recent The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems and Meeting Faith: An Inward Odyssey, which received the PEN Beyond Margins Award. She is also co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology and writer/narrator/subject of the PBS documentary, My Journey Home. Named as one of Marie Claire Magazine’s “5 Women to Learn From,” she has taught creative nonfiction and international literature from Bali to Switzerland to Ghana, and been on the MFA Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, Mills College (as Distinguished Visiting Writer), and California College of the Arts, where she currently serves as Associate Professor in Creative Nonfiction and Interim Chair of Writing & Literature. Visit her at

Ruben Martinez

is a writer, teacher and performer, is a native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. He is the author of: Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape (Metropolitan/Holt), Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail (Metropolitan/Holt), The New Americans (New Press) and The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City and Beyond (Vintage).

A journalist with over two decades of experience in print, broadcast and online media, he hosted and co-wrote the feature-length documentary film about the first century after contact between Europe and the New World, When Worlds Collide, shot on location throughout Latin America and Spain, for PBS. He won an Emmy Award for hosting KCET-TV’s politics and culture series, “Life & Times.”

His essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boom: A Journal of California, Salon, Village Voice, The Nation, Spin, Sojourners, and Mother Jones. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU and a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence.

As a musician, he has collaborated with Grammy-winning musicians like Quetzal and La Marisoul of La Santa Cecilia. He is the host of the VARIEDADES “performance salon” in Los Angeles, interdisciplinary shows that focus on topical themes.

2014 Awards Ceremony

The 2014 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 9th, 2014, 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 2014 Award Ceremony!

Richard C. Holbrooke Award Louise Erdrich

Fiction Award Bob Shacochis for The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

Nonfiction Award Karima Bennoune for Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here

Fiction Runner-up Margaret Wrinkle for Wash

Nonfiction Runner-up Jo Roberts for Contested Land, Contested Memory

Additional Videos

Entire Awards Ceremony, November 9, 2014

2014 Author’s Reception, November 9, 2014

Conversation with the Authors, November 9, 2014

Photos by Andy Snow ( ©2014.

2014 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 Us program 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.