2016 Dayton Literary
Peace Prize Finalists


    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Penguin Random House)

    A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
    Hanya Yanagihara credit Sam Levy
    Hanya Yanagihara
    Delicious Foods by James Hannaham Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown and Co.)

    Delicious Foods, by James Hannaham is an inventive feat of storytelling bravado that captures the pathos and absurdity of addiction . Held captive on a mysterious farm and under the sway of an overpowering addiction, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival. Hannaham's daring and shape-shifting prose not only infuses the desperate circumstances of his characters with grace and humor, but also wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.
    James Hannaham credit Ian Douglas
    James Hannaham
    Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman (Scribner)

    A stirring debut novel about the harrowing, intractable nature of war, Green on Blue, by Elliot Ackerman, follows a young Afghan orphan as he is forced to join a US-funded militia in order to save his brother, who is hospitalized after an attack on their village. Green on Blue is a gripping, morally complex story about boys caught in an elliptical war, and the sacrifices we make for love. Writing from the Afghan perspective, Ackerman has broken new ground in the literature of our most recent wars, accomplishing an astonishing feat of empathy and imagination.
    Elliot Ackerman credit Peter van Agtmael
    Elliot Ackerman
    Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanestan Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanestan (Algonquin)

    Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian is a remarkable debut novel that moves between 1915 in the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, pulling back the curtain on a significant and the devastating chapter of history of the Armenian Holocaust that has been silenced for many years. Aline Ohanesian knows this history well: she’s taken her family history as a starting point but breathed into it a novel full of love and heartbreak, war and recovery, crimes and their reparations.
    Aline Ohanestan
    Aline Ohanestan
    The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic)

    A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
    Viet Thanh Nguyen credit BeBe Jacobs
    Viet Thanh Nguyen
    Youngblood by Matt Gallagher Youngblood by Matt Gallagher (Atria Books)

    Youngblood by Matt Gallagher is an urgent and deeply moving novel about a young American soldier struggling to find meaning during the final, dark days of the War in Iraq. Newly minted lieutenant Jack Porter struggles with the preparations for withdrawal from Iraq, especially the alliances with warlords who have Arab and American blood on their hands.
    Matt Gallagher
    Matt Gallagher


    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel and Grau)

    In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates shares the story of his awakening to the truth about history and his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences: his immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; his engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation — a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of this country, this world, and how we can all get free. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally-charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.
    Ta-Nehisi Coates credit Nina Subin
    Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Find Me Unafraid by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner Find Me Unafraid by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner (Ecco)

    Find Me Unafraid is the story of two young people from completely different worlds: Kennedy Odede from Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, and Jessica Posner from Denver, Colorado. Kennedy foraged for food, lived on the street, and taught himself to read with old newspapers. He bought a soccer ball and started a youth empowerment group he called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). Then in 2007, Wesleyan undergraduate Jessica Posner spent a semester abroad in Kenya working with SHOFCO. Breaking all convention, she decided to live in Kibera with Kennedy, and they fell in love. The alchemy of their remarkable union has drawn the support of community members and celebrities alike — The Clintons, Mia Farrow, and Nicholas Kristof are among their fans — and their work has changed the lives of many of Kibera’s most vulnerable population: its girls. Jess and Kennedy founded Kibera’s first tuition-free school for girls, which stands as a bastion of hope in what once felt like a hopeless place — and they are just getting started.
    Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner
    Jessica Posner &
    Kennedy Odede
    Nagasaki by Susan Southard Nagasaki by Susan Southard (Viking/Penguin Random House)

    Nagasaki by Susan Southard takes readers from the morning of the bombing to Nagasaki today, telling the dramatic eyewitness accounts of five survivors — all of whom were teenagers at the time of the bombing. In the face of career and marriage discrimination, each made difficult choices about hiding or revealing their identities as hibakusha (bomb-affected people). Narrative journalist Southard spent over a decade interviewing survivors, atomic bomb historians, physicians, psychologists, social workers, educators, and archivists to unveil this critically neglected story of twentieth century. Intimate, immediate, and grounded in historical context, Nagasaki will expand our understanding of the atomic bombs and their impact and help shape public discussion and debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.
    Susan Southard credit Gina Santi
    Susan Southard
    Showdown by Wil Haygood Showdown by Wil Haygood (Knopf)

    Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America a stunning new biography, award-winning author Wil Haygood surpasses the emotional impact of his inspiring best seller The Butler to detail the life and career of one of the most transformative legal minds of the past one hundred years.

    Using the framework of the dramatic, contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative and moving look at Marshall’s life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped — or desperately tried to stop — the civil rights movement of the twentieth century. This galvanizing book makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall’s lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation.

    Wil Haygood
    Wil Haygood
    The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew (Penguin Canada)

    When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who'd raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future.

    Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.

    Wab Kinew credit Graham Constant
    Wab Kinew
    The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell (Scribner)

    The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell is the dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families — many US citizens — were incarcerated. Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history that has long been kept quiet, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.
    Jan Jarboe Russell credit Trish Simonite
    Jan Jarboe Russell

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