Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2015 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

Gloria Steinem

“As a little girl reading about Eleanor Roosevelt in a Toledo neighborhood library — or a grown-up recommending books like Sex and World Peace to all who will listen — I’ve learned that words give us our ideas of what is possible. I’m honored to be any part of a recognition that words and ideas must lead the way.”

— Gloria Steinem                        

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Bio

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She now lives in New York City and has just finished a book detailing her more than thirty years on the road as a feminist organizer.

Read the full press release

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Book Excerpt 

 

After I joined the ranks of traveling organizers—which just means being an entrepreneur of social change—I discovered the magic of people telling their own stories to groups of strangers. It’s as if attentive people create a magnetic force field for stories the tellers themselves didn’t know they had within them. Also, one of the simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.

Citation

By means of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation proudly honors Gloria Steinem: writer, feminist icon, peace activist, political organizer, and visionary guide. Steinem became a household name in the 1970s as a founder of, fighter for, and frequent contributor to Ms. magazine. Four decades later, she continues to be a vaunted leader of and spokesperson for worldwide feminism. Gloria Steinem once credited Simone de Beauvoir with inspiring the women’s movement; many today believe Steinem deserves credit for much of what feminism has accomplished since. From the 1960s onward, she has been the single strongest voice speaking for and to women (and the many listening men) during what has been called the world’s “longest revolution.”


Peace has always been crucial to Steinem’s feminism and to her efforts to aid other causes: the civil rights movement, fair treatment of farm workers, and the end of conflict in Vietnam. An Ohio native, she graduated from Smith College, and then traveled to India where she became a student of Mohandas Gandhi’s ideas about nonviolence. These, she learned, grew in part out of India’s women’s movement preceding him. After coursework at the University of Delhi, Steinem participated in nonviolent protests of the caste system in southern India. During demonstrations, she came face to face with the deplorable treatment of underclass women in India, an experience that led her to see parallels in equally dismal conditions for women in other parts of the world.

Steinem’s career has been all about words leading to peaceful political action, much of it in behalf of women. Through books, essays, speeches, panel presentations, interviews, and conversations and through marshaling the ideas of other feminists into publication, she has defined the women’s movement and created untold improvements in women’s and men’s lives. Her Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) contains her early, insightful essays on feminism. They continue to resonate with readers, even after thirty years. vRevolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992) is based on the premise that not only are there “external barriers to women’s equality,” but also there are “internal ones, too,” emotional damages often done by patriarchy, that sufferers themselves must heal; in Doing Sixty and Seventy (2006) Steinem explains why women tend to become radicalized feminists as they age. Nor has Steinem herself mellowed with time. She continues speaking out about the economic preference in some places for sons over daughters, female genital mutilation, enforced child marriage, sex trafficking, sex-tourism, domestic violence, honor killings, and dowry deaths. Sadly, the list goes on and on. Due out in October is Steinem’s My Life on the Road that connects travel with activism. One doesn’t journey far without seeing how much work in gender equality remains to be done.

In her writing and speeches, Steinem has shown the relationship between equal rights for all and peace on planet Earth. Like the authors of seminal study Sex and World Peace (2012), Steinem teaches that nations treating women badly are often poor, that countries promoting gender equality are less likely to go to war and are less likely to be the first to inflict damage. Repeatedly, Steinem has asserted that gender inequality is related to security issues on both national and international levels, that efforts to achieve peace in the world need also address “the violence and exploitation that occur in personal relationships between the two halves of humanity, men and women” (5). As have the authors of Sex and World Peace, Steinem has been on the forefront in pointing out that, for there to be peace on any level, females must, first, be physically safe in their homes and towns with the power to make decisions in regard to their own bodies. Second, laws must protect females in the same ways they protect males, and third, women must participate equally in “the councils of human decision making at all levels” (6). Silenced women’s voices have been a, if not the, key cause of international discord. Gender equality, Steinem would say, is a precondition for world peace, a goal she has spent her life working toward.

It was Gloria Steinem who long ago famously quipped, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” True as her observation was for its own time, she might now say, “Forget the bike: worldwide, women and men simply must interact equally and peaceably with each other; further, we have to do a better job of protecting fish if we are all to survive.


– Mary Beth Pringle
Emerita Professor of English
Wright State University

Citation

By means of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation proudly honors Gloria Steinem: writer, feminist icon, peace activist, political organizer, and visionary guide. Steinem became a household name in the 1970s as a founder of, fighter for, and frequent contributor to Ms. magazine. Four decades later, she continues to be a vaunted leader of and spokesperson for worldwide feminism. Gloria Steinem once credited Simone de Beauvoir with inspiring the women’s movement; many today believe Steinem deserves credit for much of what feminism has accomplished since. From the 1960s onward, she has been the single strongest voice speaking for and to women (and the many listening men) during what has been called the world’s “longest revolution.”

Peace has always been crucial to Steinem’s feminism and to her efforts to aid other causes: the civil rights movement, fair treatment of farm workers, and the end of conflict in Vietnam. An Ohio native, she graduated from Smith College, and then traveled to India where she became a student of Mohandas Gandhi’s ideas about nonviolence. These, she learned, grew in part out of India’s women’s movement preceding him. After coursework at the University of Delhi, Steinem participated in nonviolent protests of the caste system in southern India. During demonstrations, she came face to face with the deplorable treatment of underclass women in India, an experience that led her to see parallels in equally dismal conditions for women in other parts of the world.

Steinem’s career has been all about words leading to peaceful political action, much of it in behalf of women. Through books, essays, speeches, panel presentations, interviews, and conversations and through marshaling the ideas of other feminists into publication, she has defined the women’s movement and created untold improvements in women’s and men’s lives. Her Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) contains her early, insightful essays on feminism. They continue to resonate with readers, even after thirty years. vRevolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992) is based on the premise that not only are there “external barriers to women’s equality,” but also there are “internal ones, too,” emotional damages often done by patriarchy, that sufferers themselves must heal; in Doing Sixty and Seventy (2006) Steinem explains why women tend to become radicalized feminists as they age. Nor has Steinem herself mellowed with time. She continues speaking out about the economic preference in some places for sons over daughters, female genital mutilation, enforced child marriage, sex trafficking, sex-tourism, domestic violence, honor killings, and dowry deaths. Sadly, the list goes on and on. Due out in October is Steinem’s My Life on the Road that connects travel with activism. One doesn’t journey far without seeing how much work in gender equality remains to be done.

In her writing and speeches, Steinem has shown the relationship between equal rights for all and peace on planet Earth. Like the authors of seminal study Sex and World Peace (2012), Steinem teaches that nations treating women badly are often poor, that countries promoting gender equality are less likely to go to war and are less likely to be the first to inflict damage. Repeatedly, Steinem has asserted that gender inequality is related to security issues on both national and international levels, that efforts to achieve peace in the world need also address “the violence and exploitation that occur in personal relationships between the two halves of humanity, men and women” (5). As have the authors of Sex and World Peace, Steinem has been on the forefront in pointing out that, for there to be peace on any level, females must, first, be physically safe in their homes and towns with the power to make decisions in regard to their own bodies. Second, laws must protect females in the same ways they protect males, and third, women must participate equally in “the councils of human decision making at all levels” (6). Silenced women’s voices have been a, if not the, key cause of international discord. Gender equality, Steinem would say, is a precondition for world peace, a goal she has spent her life working toward.

It was Gloria Steinem who long ago famously quipped, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” True as her observation was for its own time, she might now say, “Forget the bike: worldwide, women and men simply must interact equally and peaceably with each other; further, we have to do a better job of protecting fish if we are all to survive.

– Mary Beth Pringle
Emerita Professor of English
Wright State University

 

Book Excerpt 

 

After I joined the ranks of traveling organizers—which just means being an entrepreneur of social change—I discovered the magic of people telling their own stories to groups of strangers. It’s as if attentive people create a magnetic force field for stories the tellers themselves didn’t know they had within them. Also, one of the simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.

2015 Fiction Winner

Josh Weil - The Great Glass Sea

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“I’ve long believed that narrative’s greatest power lies in its ability to bind us to others and, in doing so, to make us see ourselves, and our world, with greater complexity and compassion. Because literature can draw us into characters’ interiors, make us witness to their souls, it is uniquely suited to this task: a book need not be about war to promote peace; it need not be about violence to encourage kindness; it must simply strive to create a greater understanding of the human heart. This is how literature sets the groundwork for a more humane world. To have The Great Glass Sea recognized for its attempt to do so is a deeply humbling and inspiring honor.”  

— Josh Weil                        

Bio

Josh Weil was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his novella collection, The New Valley. A National Book Award “Five Under Thirty-Five” author, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Columbia University, the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Esquire, One Story, and Tin House.

Citation

In this genre-bending opus, Josh Weil gives us twin brothers who are closer than brothers in a myth, so close it fills our heart and challenges our comfort; and then, plying us with epic poems and layered stories, Weil speculates a future Russia with endless reflected technological sunshine. The radical family story of Yarick and Dima becomes the warm-blooded center of one of the oldest dialogues in the world, and in many ways the most current: should the Consortium and the corporate future dominate people’s right to life on earth, the pleasures of long dinners and stories and family and the old farm? The novel’s muscle is the dangerous and saving power of tales, of our stories and who uses them and to what ends. Weil’s gift to us is the construct of his vivid Russian world, this ancient proud commune at the glassy edge of the future, so strange but with a texture so convincing and real it hurts; it hosts the political storm the way all great writing supports its human dramas. The awesome exactitude of the metaphor made physical – the literal glass sea – is a tour de force in itself; its meaning emerges slowly as it is constructed and then we have to deal with all the things that this crushing project does to the light and darkness of the people below. This book is about more than Russia. There is something deeply original and current and historical in this large literary work of art.

— Ron Carlson
2015 finalist judge


Book Excerpt


They were ten years old—Dimitryl Levovich Zhuvov and Yaroslav Levovich Zhuvov—and they had never been this far out in the lake, this lost, this on their own.  Around them the water was wide as a second sky, darkening beneath the one above, the rowboat a moonsliver winking on the waves.  In it, they sat side by side, hands buried in the pockets of their coats, leaning slightly into each other with each sway of the skiff. “Or maybe it came up,” Dima said, “and crashed the boat.” ”And the drowned,” Yarik said. “Or,” Dima said, “it ate them.”  They grinned, the same grin at the same time, as if one’s cheeks tugged the other’s lips.  “Or,” Yarik started.  And Dima finished, “They died.”  They went quiet.

The low sap of lake water knocking the metal hull.  The small sharp calls of jaegers black specs swirling against a frostbitten sky.  But no wood blades clacking at the rowboat’s side.  No worn handles creaking in the locks.  Hours ago, they had lost the oars.

2015 Fiction Runner-up

Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See

“Systematic hatred depends upon objectifying people into groups, dismantling its adherents’ abilities to understand and share the feelings of others, and minimizing the complexity of the individual. But in the best novels, stories, and poems, we celebrate the individual; we are reminded that even the most distant soul is exactly as human as we are. Literature, I believe, is uniquely qualified to develop our compassion, empathy, and attentiveness — a good piece of writing should be an antidote to hatred. Cheers to the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for recognizing that. Thanks to the judges and congratulations to the winners!”

— Anthony Doerr              

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Bio

Anthony Doerr was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s the author of five books: the story collections The Shell Collector and Memory Wall; the memoir Four Seasons in Rome; and the novels About Grace and All the Light We Cannot See, which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. His fiction has been translated into over forty languages and won prizes including the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the National Magazine Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. He’s also a regular contributor to Condé Nast Traveler. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and sons.


Book Excerpt


The window panes rattle in their housings.  The anti-air guns unleash another volley.  The earth rotates just a bit farther.

Beneath her fingertips, the miniature rue d’Estre’es intersects the miniature rue Vanborel.  Her fingers turn right; they skim doorways.  One two three. Four.  How many times has she done this?

Number 4:  the tall derelict bird’s nest of a house owned by her great uncle Etienne.  Where she has lived for four years.  Where she kneels on the sixth floor alone, as a dozen American bombers roar toward her.

She presses inward on the tiny front door, and a hidden catch releases, and the little house lifts up and out of the model in her hands.  It’s about the size of one of her father’s cigarette boxes.

Now the bombers are so close that the floor starts to throb under her knees.  Out in the hall, the crystal pendants of the chandelier suspended above the stairwell chime.  Marie Laure twists the chimney of the miniature house ninety degrees.  Then she slides off three wooden panels that make up its roof and turns it over.

A stone drops into her palm.

It’s cold.  The size of a pigeon’s egg.  The shape of a teardrop

Marie Laure clutches the tiny house in one hand and the stone in the other.  The room feels flimsy, tenuous.  Giant fingertips seem about to punch through its walls.

“Papa?” she whispers.

Citation

Anthony Doerr’s novel is as faceted as the Sea of Flames gem, the hidden, coveted jewel that animates major characters and serves as one of the many metaphors for this paradoxically entitled, moving WWII fiction about love and greed, self-absorption and self-sacrifice. Setting chronology aside, Doerr’s gem-cutter skills shine through in his expert management of two parallel stories that move back and forth in time in wrenching, suspenseful arrangement. In the first story, a blind girl and father in Paris must endure the Nazis occupation; in the second, a young German, of the lightest complexion and hair and eye-color, is recruited by the Nazis to serve the war effort with his precocious skills in radio circuitry. The early serendipitous connections between Marie-Laure and Werner — on his secreted, rigged radio he listens to a broadcast made by Marie-Laure’s grandfather in St. Malo — are gradually revealed so that their momentous meeting in St. Malo in August of 1944, two months after D-Day, does not feel contrived but blessed. Werner’s simple exhortation to himself, “Open your eyes and see what you can see with them before they close forever,” is but a pinprick example of the lit-up prose in service of historical and spiritual instruction in this most ambitious, generous, deeply considered masterwork.

— Christine Schutt
2015 finalist judge

2015 Nonfiction Winner

Bryan Stevenson - Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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“Peace is more than the absence of conflict. There must be hope, justice and greater understanding of one another for us to truly embrace the beauty that lies in genuine peace. Literature is a powerful tool for exploring this kind of peace that seeks more than mere calm and nothing has been a greater source of strength for me in the pursuit of peace and justice than the great books which have shaped my career and writing. To now be awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is more than a great honor, it is a source of pride and encouragement that I always treasure. I am humbled and inspired.”

— Bryan Stevenson

Bio

Bryan Stevenson is a 1985 graduate of Harvard, with both a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a J.D. from the School of Law. He joined the clinical faculty at New York University School of Law in 1998.

Stevenson has been representing capital defendants and death row prisoners in the deep south since 1985 when he was a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 1989, he has been Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private, nonprofit law organization he founded that focuses on social justice and human rights in the context of criminal justice reform in the United States. EJI litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged, poor people denied effective representation and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevenson’s work has won him national acclaim. In 1995, he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Award Prize. He is also a 1989 recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the 1991 ACLU National Medal of Liberty, and in 1996, he was named the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers. In 2000, Stevenson received the Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden for international human rights and in 2004, he received the Award for Courageous Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Lawyer for the People Award from the National Lawyers Guild. In 2006, NYU presented Mr. Stevenson with its Distinguished Teaching Award. He has also received honorary degrees from several universities, including Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown University School of Law. Stevenson has served as a visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan School of Law. He has also published several widely disseminated manuals on capital litigation and written extensively on criminal justice, capital punishment and civil rights issues.

Citation

Quite simply, this book will break your heart. As a young African American lawyer come from poverty, Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice in the American South dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the criminal justice system. After a harrowing twenty-five years spent in the trenches, MacArthur “Genius” Stevenson offers up this searing, brilliantly researched account of how “politics of fear and rage” have derailed the American justice system.

In Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, we meet two Stevensons: the naïve young lawyer and the wiser-but-weary middle-aged warrior. More importantly, the author Stevenson humanizes his clients, both innocent and guilty, and challenges damning, prevailing narratives about so-called offenders. Just Mercy manages to achieve both depth and breadth by alternating masterfully between a page-turning, in-depth profile of one egregiously unjust death penalty case, and stories of cases that illustrate Stevenson’s focus (mentally ill offenders, women, juveniles with life sentences, prison conditions, capital punishment). All are recreated in heartrending but clear-eyed detail.

As both an exhaustive documentation and indictment of our justice system from the 1980s to the present, and an investigation of class, race, gender, and age in America, Just Mercy shines a light on bias in media, shoddy police investigations, punitive sentencing, and us, a blood-thirsty populace who “want[s] to kill all the broken people.” In his blurb, Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls Stevenson “America’s young Nelson Mandela” and declares that Just Mercy “should be read by people of conscience in every civilized country in the world.” As always, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate speaks truth to power.

– Faith Adiele
2015 finalist judges


Book Excerpt


A small child was pushed into the visiting room.  This boy seemed way too short, way too thin, and way too scared to be fourteen.  I looked at the jailer, who seemed to share my surprise at how small and terrified the child appeared. I asked him to remove the handcuffs.  Sometimes in jails like this the guards resist uncuffing clients, arguing that it’s not safe or permitted to take the handcuffs off a suspect during a legal visit. This guard didn’t hesitate to take the handcuffs off this child before leaving the room

The boy wouldn’t make eye contact with me.  He was tiny but he had big, beautiful eyes.  He had a close haircut that was common for little boys because it required no maintenance. It made him look even younger than he was.  I thought I saw tattoos on symbols on his neck but when I looked more closely, I realized that they were bruises.

Watch Bryan Stevenson's TED talk

Now viewed by nearly 7 million people!

The True Story Behind the Movie: Just Mercy

Click the image above to see the 60 Minutes report from 1992 on the case that is at the center of the movie: Just Mercy. And here is a link to Bryan Stevenson’s acceptance speech as the winner of our 2015 award for nonfiction.

2015 Nonfiction Runner-up

Jeff Hobbs - The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

“To believe that peace is achieved through understanding is insufficient, because understanding can only occur following the abandonment of the charged, often invisible preconceptions we all bring to the judgment of others. Individuals, races, classes — no person or group of people experiences a given moment in the same way. So often, that difficult and essential gap between event and perception is forgotten — or ignored. Storytelling has the capacity to perpetuate such amnesia, but at its best can help correct it. There are so many people, such as Rob Peace, whose stories can contribute to the cause of peace.”

— Jeff Hobbs             

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Bio

Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002. The author of The Tourists, a national bestselling novel, Hobbs lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles, where he is working on his second book of nonfiction while also speaking to high school and college students across the country.


Book Excerpt


Our sophomore dorm room was less tranquil, looking as though a bomb composed of dirty laundry, CD’s, and aluminum take-out food containers had detonated.  I flicked on the lights, and Rob materialized out of the dark.  He’d been sitting in a wooden chair in the far corner, head bowed, one hand hanging over his broad chest while the other picked at his frayed, newly grown cornrows. The room was thickly perfumed with incense.  In a charged flurry one night a few weeks earlier, we’d written some of our favorite verse in permanent black marker on the white walls.  One of my contributions had been the last line of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses”:  To strive, to seek, to find, and to yield.  Above it, Rob had written a stanza from a Ludacris song that detailed having sex with a woman on the fifty-yard line of the Georgia Dome.  Rob sat just beneath those lines, his exhalations audible and weighty.  His dining hall uniform was unbuttoned over a ribbed sleeveless undershirt.  His face was angled down and away but his body resembled a dark, clenched fist.

Citation

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is at once a beautifully written tribute to a departed friend, a meticulously reported investigation of one man’s life and death, and a densely researched exposé of the racial and economic divides that rend our country and our lives. It’s a love story, at heart – not a romance, but a book compelled by intense sorrow at unexpected loss, a loss that sends its author on a quest for understanding. Jeff Hobbs, a novelist by training, writes a vivid, particular account, rendered in painstaking detail, that speaks to the larger existential dilemma that lies at the heart of the search for human understanding: How can we know a person so well, and yet at the same time know them so little? Unable to help or save his own friend, Hobbs’ account vividly illustrates some of the entrenched social problems – especially poverty, drugs, and racism – that must be overcome if we sincerely believe that all lives matter.

Devastated by the loss of the man who was his college roommate for four years, Hobbs embarked on a Herculean task of trying to figure out how his gifted friend could wind up another victim of our nation’s drug wars. “I sought out anyone who might have a shred of perspective not only on Rob’s direct experiences but also on the places and structures that informed those experiences,” the author says in his introductory Note. Hobbs’ investigation humanizes its subjects, reveals the impact of both race and class within strongly delineated portraits of Newark and Yale University, and challenges typical American notions of social mobility and individual reinvention. This complex portrait of a complicated man living in a contradictory time and place explores the intersections of race, class, gender, poverty, urban decay, politics and education in turn-of-the-century America. Choosing knowledge over alienation, Hobbs stares down the notion that we are all strangers to each other. He does this without ever preaching or pontificating. He assiduously follows that Day 1 writing rule: show, don’t tell. The devil is in the details in this compelling narrative that turns a trope – young promise cut short – into over 400 riveting pages. “Much of this material is subjective, but so is any human life,” Hobbs writes.

– Evelyn McDonnell
2015 finalist judges

2015 Finalists

Fiction

2015 finalists_doerr_f

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

From the highly acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl Marie-Laure and a German boy Werner whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove Atlantic)

In An Untamed State, Roxane Gay delivers an assured debut with a story of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce, finally showing us how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places.

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead)

Chronicling three generations of the Bradshaw family in the Virgin Islands, Land of Love and Drowning weaves together stories of magic and lust, unknown connections and hidden mysteries, family legacies, and an island world undergoing historical changes.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Knopf)

Henríquez seamlessly interweaves the story of two star-crossed lovers and their families with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America in this novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love, offering a new definition of what it means to be American.

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins)

Set before and during the Great War, this is a tale of love and war in which a most unexpected player—food—becomes the ultimate expression of love, sharing center stage with blood-soaked trenches, home-front deprivation and the changing roles of women. raising profound questions about conflict, belief, and love that echo in our own time.

The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Atlantic)

This is an epic tragedy of brotherly love set against the dystopian backdrop of an alternative present-day Russia and swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore.

Nonfiction

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel and Grau)

From one of the country’s most visionary legal thinkers, social justice advocates, and MacArthur “geniuses,” this is an intimate and unforgettable narrative journey into the broken American criminal justice system, an exquisitely rendered account of a heroic advocate’s fights on behalf of the most powerless people in our society.

No Man’s Land by Elizabeth D. Samet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This book offers a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between war and peace, between “over there” and “over here”—between life on the front and life at home.

The Other Side by Lacy Johnson (Tin House Books)

This is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover, raising timely questions about gender roles and the epidemic of violence against women.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner)

Written by his college roommate, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is the brilliant, deeply-researched account of the life of Robert DeShaun Peace, a talented young African-American man who left the ghettos of Newark, New Jersey, on a full scholarship to Yale University, but who was tragically murdered in a basement marijuana lab after he graduated.

There Was and There Was Not by Meline Toumani (Metropolitan Books)

Frustrated by the all-consuming nature of her close-knit Armenian community’s quest for genocide recognition by Turkey, Toumani moved to Istanbul; this account of her “love thine enemy” experiment probes universal questions: how to belong to a community without conforming to it, how to acknowledge a tragedy without exploiting it, and, most important, how to remember a genocide without perpetuating the kind of hatred that makes such atrocities possible in the first place.

Who We Be by Jeff Chang (St. Martin’s Press)

This book explores the changing (and unchanging) ways that the U.S. has viewed race over the past half-century, asking whether or not in the eras of “multicultural” and “post-racial” cultures if we really see each other more clearly.

2015 Finalist Judges

Fiction

Ron Carlson

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

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

Christine Schutt   

is the author of two short story collections, Nightwork and A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer. Her first novel, Florida, was a National Book Award finalist; her second novel, All Souls, a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. A third novel, Prosperous Friends, was noted in The New Yorker as one of the best books of 2012. Her fiction has appeared in such publications as Harper’s, NOON, The Kenyon Review, and The Oxford American; her stories anthologized in The Vintage Book of New American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and elsewhere. Among other honors, Schutt has twice won the O.Henry Short Story Prize. She is the recipient of the New York Foundation of the Arts and Guggenheim Fellowships and has taught at Columbia, Syracuse, UC-Irvine, Sarah Lawrence, Hollins, Barnard, and most recently as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Richmond.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, he returned to Iowa to direct the Nonfiction Writing Program for nine years before moving to Singapore to direct the writing program at Yale-NUS College and also serve as Writer-in-Residence there. He is also a Visiting Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia and Professor Emeritus at The University of Iowa.

Nonfiction

   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 http://adiele.com.

Southard’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and Lapham’s Quarterly. She now speaks across the United States and abroad, including presentations before the United Nations and at a United Nations nuclear disarmament conference in Hiroshima. Southard has taught nonfiction seminars at Arizona State University’s Piper Writers Studio and the University of Georgia, and directed creative writing programs for incarcerated youth and at a federal prison for women outside Phoenix. She is the founder and artistic director of the Phoenix-based Essential Theatre, a professional company now in its 29th season serving marginalized communities across the Southwest.

Evelyn McDonnell     

has written or co-edited six books, from Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop and Rap to Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways. A longtime journalist, she has been a pop culture writer at The Miami Herald and a senior editor at The Village Voice. Her writing on music, poetry, theater, and culture has won several awards and appeared in publications and anthologies including the Los Angeles Times, Ms., Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Spin, Travel & Leisure, Billboard, Vibe, Interview, and Option. She has been an Annenberg Fellow at the University of Southern California. She is Assistant Professor of Journalism and New Media at Loyola Marymount University.

2015 Awards Ceremony

The 2015 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 1st, 2015, 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 2015 Award Ceremony!

Richard C. Holbrooke Award Gloria Steinem

Fiction Award Josh Weil for The Great Glass Sea

Nonfiction Award Bryan Stevenson for Just Mercy

Fiction Runner-up Anthony Doerr for All the Light We Cannot See

Nonfiction Runner-up Jeff Hobbs for The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

Additional Videos

Entire Awards Ceremony, November 1, 2015

Welcome and Closing, November 1, 2015

2015 Author’s Reception, November 1, 2015

Conversations with the Authors, November 1, 2015

Photos by Andy Snow (andysnow.com) ©2018.

2015 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.