Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

N. Scott Momaday

“If we are to understand the synthesis of literature and peace, we must first consider that the end of art is the definition of the human condition. In its ultimate realization the human condition is a state of peace. Peace is the objective of human evolution, and literature is the measure of that evolution. The history of human experience is in many ways a history of dysfunction and conflict, and literature, because it is an accurate record of that history, reflects not only what is peaceful but what is the universal hope and struggle for peace. Literature and peace are at last indivisible. They form an equation that is the definition of art and humanity.”

— N. Scott Momaday                      



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Scott Momaday is a poet, a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, a playwright, a painter and photographer, a storyteller, and a professor of English and American literature. He is Native American (Kiowa), and among his chief interests are Native American art and oral tradition. He received the National Medal of Arts in November 2007 “for his writings and his work that celebrate and preserve Native American art and oral tradition.” In addition to the National Medal of Arts, he has received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his first novel, House Made of Dawn, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Premio Letterario Internazionale “Mondello”, Italy’s highest literary award, The Saint Louis Literary Award, the Premio Fronterizo, the highest award of the Border Book Festival, the 2008 Oklahoma Humanities Award, and the 2003 Autry Center for the American West Humanities Award. UNESCO named him an Artist for Peace in 2003, the first American to be so honored since the United States rejoined UNESCO. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities including Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa in his home state of Oklahoma, Blaise Pascal University (France) and his alma mater, the University of New Mexico. In 2018 he received the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Book Award. In 2019 he was inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named the recipient of the Prairie Reserve Ken Burns American Heritage Prize.

Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, and was raised in Indian Country in Oklahoma and the Southwest, where his parents, artist Al Momaday and writer Natachee Scott Momaday, were teachers employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He graduated from the University of New Mexico (BA 1958) and Stanford University (MA 1960, PhD 1963). He has held tenured appointments at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and retired as Regents Professor at the University of Arizona. He was the first professor to teach American literature at the University of Moscow in Russia in 1974, and was the inaugural University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Northern Momentum Teacher/Scholar in 2001. He is presently a Senior Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

His books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Japanese, and Spanish and include The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (Oxford University Press), House Made of Dawn (Harper and Row), The Way to Rainy Mountain (University of New Mexico Press), Angle of Geese(David R. Godine), The Gourd Dancer (Harper and Row), The Names (Harper and Row), The Ancient Child(Doubleday), In the Presence of the Sun (St. Martin’s Press), The Man Made of Words (St. Martin’s Press), In the Bear’s House (St. Martin’s Press), Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story (University of New Mexico Press), Les Enfants du Soleil (Le Seuil, Paris), and Four Arrows and Magpie (Hawk Publ. Group). His play, The Indolent Boys, was given its world premiere at the Syracuse Stage in 1994, and his children’s play, Children of the Sun, opened at the Kennedy Center in 1997. Three Plays, which collects these plays, along with The Moon in Two Windows, was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2007. A book of photographs, The Storyteller’s Eye, reflecting his thirty years of travel in the former Soviet Union as well as his work with indigenous peoples around the world, is also forthcoming. A new collection of poetry, a new children’s book, and a memoir are in progress.

Momaday has been a commentator of National Public Radio, the voice of the National Museum of the American Indian of the Smithsonian Institution, the narrator of PBS documentaries including “Remembered Earth” and “Last Stand at Little Bighorn,” and he was a featured on-camera commentator on the PBS series “The West”, produced by Ken Burns and directed by Stephen Ives. He has lectured and given readings in many countries of the world. He presided over and was the keynote speaker for UNESCO’s International Symposium on Indigenous Identities in 2001, and participated in Brainstorm 2001, 2002, and 2003, the Fortune Editors’ Invitational (Fortune Magazine and the Aspen Institute). His essays and articles have appeared in Natural History, American West, The New York Review of Books, New York Newsday, The New York Times, and other periodicals, and most recently in Lewis and Clark Through Native Eyes (Knopf, Alvin Josephy, ed.). His introduction to The Way to Rainy Mountain is included in The Best American Essays of the Century (Houghton Mifflin, 2000, Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Atwan, eds.).

His paintings, drawings and prints have been exhibited in the US and abroad. A one-man, 20-year retrospective was mounted at the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe in 1992-1993. Most recently Jacobson House at the University of Oklahoma presented a retrospective of his work and selections from his parents’ work in May 2006

Momaday was a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian and is a founding member of the Stewardship Council of the Autry Center for the American West. He is the founder and chairman of The Buffalo Trust, a non-profit foundation for the preservation and restoration of indigenous culture and heritage, with projects in the American Southwest, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Siberia. He has been actively involved in partnership projects with indigenous peoples in Siberia since his Fulbright professorship in 1974, and with UNESCO in the United States, Europe and Siberia since 2003. He also is the founder of the nonprofit Rainy Mountain Foundation in Oklahoma, which is building an archive and camp for Native American youth at Rainy Mountain, Oklahoma.

On July 12, 2007, the State of Oklahoma named Momaday the Centennial Poet Laureate, a position in which he traveled and met with people throughout the state to celebrate poetry and Native American oral traditions. He holds the honor of Poet Laureate in the Kiowa tribe, and he is the New Mexico Centennial Distinguished Writer. In the current year (2014) Momaday is Adjunct Professor of Native American studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Artist in Residence at St. John’s College, Santa Fe.

Read the full press release

Book Excerpt 


She had learned that in words and in language, and there only, she could have whole and consummate being. She could neither read nor write, you see, but she taught me how to live among her words, how to listen and delight.

Storytelling: to utter and to hear. . . And the simple act of listening is crucial to the concept of language, more crucial even than reading and writing, and language in turn is crucial to human society. There is proof of that, I think, in all the histories and pre-histories of human experience,. . . .

When that old Kiowa woman told me those old stories, something strange and good and powerful was going on. I was a child, and that old woman was asking me to come directly into the presence of her mind and spirit; she was talking hold of my imagination, giving me to share in the great fortune of her wonder and delight. She was asking me to go with her to the confrontation of something that was sacred and eternal. It was a timeless, timeless thing; nothing of her old age or of my childhood came between us.


Novelist, poet, painter, memoirist, playwright, and scholar N. Scott Momaday’s work played a major role in the mid-century flowering of Native American literature and continues to be influential and inspirational to readers and writers.

With the publication of his first novel, House Made of Dawn in 1968, Momaday was instrumental in awakening Americans’ eyes to the living conditions and struggles of our native populations. House Made of Dawn introduced readers to Abel — home from war, drunk, disaffected, self-destructive, and depressed, both a victim and a victimizer. Abel suffers what we would now recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder, but not just as a result of his wartime experiences. His partial assimilation into the dominant culture has severed him from his spiritual center in the land and tribe. Abel’s spiral into self-destruction is only allayed when he returns a second time to the reservation, to care for his dying grandfather and, subsequently, perform tribal rituals associated with death. The power of storytelling, ritual, and oneness with the natural world to restore wholeness or create the whole self is foregrounded in House as well as in later works. This thematic triad—story, ritual, place — appears throughout his work and that of writers like Paula Gunn Allen, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, James Welch, LInda Hogan, Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, David Seals, Thomas King, Joy Harjo, and Tommy Orange, to name just a few.

Over the course of a long and influential career Momaday has published poetry and essays, children’s literature and plays. His creative work is characteristically multi-generic, combining original poetry, drawings and paintings, essays, folklore, and memoir within a single text. He draws on the rhetorical and emotional power of each genre gracefully and effectively to explore the power of ritual, imagination, and storytelling to mediate between cultures, and individuals, to produce peace through intercultural understanding and reconciliation, and to heal individuals damaged by conflict and oppression.

Momaday is a folklorist and scholar as well as a creative writer, capturing and freshly retelling Kiowa and family stories in works as early as The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) and continuing through his most recent children’s book and collection of poetry. In doing so he has helped ensure the preservation in print of these tales and assured they are preserved with a Kiowa sensibility. As a scholar he has enriched our understanding of American literary history. His 1965 edition of The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman helped revive interest in that nineteenth-century poet and remained for decades the standard edition of Tuckerman’s poetry.

Above all, though, Momaday speaks for the Earth, reaffirming the natural world as a sacred space and reminding us that humans are a part of, not apart from that world. First to last, his work insists upon authentic relationships: with ourselves, with others, with the stories we tell of our pasts and present, and ultimately with the tough-fragile green and holy orb that sustains us.

Carol S. Loranger
Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Wright State University

2019 Fiction Winner

Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde - What We Owe

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“My father tended to explain the unknown through stories. Not from his own imagination, but from telling whatever tales he could find—the kind of tales that dug deep into the human soul, and brought understanding. My first pet in Iran was a chicken named Papillon, and the movie Papillon is the first I remember watching. This was my father’s way of telling me about freedom—about how he, who does not have it, cannot stop fighting until he does. War and the fight for freedom eventually made us flee Iran for Sweden. How do you make sense of a new country? Well, I was only three years old but this was done through stories. Through the work of Astrid Lindgren, author of children’s literature and the creator of several universes that helped me understand the beauty and pains of Swedishness. I am forever grateful for these tales, for how reading them made me feel as if I were part of them. The strength of the written world, in creating empathy and reflection, is the most powerful thing I know. But I wish there had been tales that could tell my new country about me. Who I was, the refugee child. Why I had come, what I had brought, what my contribution would be. There were none of these stories when I grew up. I am honored to now be taking part in creating them, and thus help humanize the displaced.”

— Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde                        


Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde was born in Iran in 1983 and fled with her parents to Sweden as a three year old. She graduated from the Stockholm School of Economics and was named one of 50 Goldman Sachs Global Leaders. She has studied at Columbia Business School, and worked at McKinsey & Co for a brief period before turning to the literary and social sector.

Golnaz is the founder and director of Inkludera, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting marginalization in society by backing social entrepreneurs who have developed pragmatic new solutions to social challenges. A central part of Inkluderas work is helping their entrepreneurs to sell their services to the public sector. Inkludera supports 10 Swedish organizations, who together work with 35,000 individuals and sell to 90 municipalities.

Golnaz is a public speaker and has contributed as an independent columnist for Sweden’s main daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter.

She debuted as an author in 2012 with the novel, She Is Not Me (Hon är inte jag) and her second novel, What We Owe (Det varvi) is being published in 26 languages.

Golnaz lives in Stockholm together with her husband, daughter and son.


If our first loves are our mothers and our first homes our countries, What We Owe interrogates what it means to lose them both, to move about the world unanchored. 50-year-old Nahid, an Iranian woman living in Sweden, receives an unwelcome diagnosis: she has cancer and six months to live. What follows is a sustained howl of a novel, a tale of fury and love and guilt, a reckoning of revolution and motherhood, that demands our empathy with complex characters and a singularly rendered narrator.

There is an immigrant narrative we are all familiar with: immigrant flees persecution from “third world”. Immigrant succeeds in new “first world” home. Immigrant is unconditionally grateful — always grateful. Bonde complicates this narrative with reality. Choices made in desperation and fear rarely produce whole satisfaction and for every gain there are losses, some so deeply felt that no achievement can mitigate them.

In a recollection of the past, the narrator and her sisters wear brow-raising short skirts and turn a pejorative aimed their way — “witches and whores” — into a song they dance to. It is a time of hope and laughter, a contemporary Iran yet untouched by the Islamic Revolution and the novel softens enough to let the characters breathe, bringing them to full life. A constriction soon follows, a narrowing as lives are taken, options are few and some must flee. The protagonist is often harsh, speaking to her adult daughter with cruel directness, failing or refusing to temper her annoyance, even when tender situations call for it. The novel is a reflection of this refusing to look away, refusing to flinch.

This short powerful book puts “refugee” in context; it texturizes the experience. Gone are the layers of distance created by disassociating headlines, the clinical analyses of “yet another” crisis unfolding across the world. But it is more than that, so much more. It is a novel of mothers and daughters, of what they give and take from each other and how this relationship can be a loving bond or bondage. What Bonde has accomplished in this slim work is nothing short of extraordinary.

— Lesley Arimah
2019 finalist judge

Book Excerpt

My mother still doesn’t know I’m dying. I haven’t told her and I’ve forbidden anyone else to do so either. Why should she have to be tormented by that thought. Why should she have to lose another daughter. Loss. Sometimes I want to say to those who accuse us of coming here to rip them off. To take something that isn’t ours. I want to say to them, Do you think I’ve won? Do you think I’ve gained more than I’ve lost? And you. Do you think you’ve lost more than I’ve gained? Do you think your loss is greater than my gain?

2019 Fiction Runner-up

Richard Powers - The Overstory

“No justice, no peace. No kinship, no justice. No empathy, no kinship. Reading and writing are exercises in empathy: How would the urgencies of the world look and feel, if I could get beyond myself? The best way to get beyond the self is a good story. No good stories, no peace.”

— Richard Powers              

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Richard Powers is the author of twelve novels that explore connections among disciplines as disparate as photography, artificial intelligence, musical composition, ecology, genomics, game theory, virtual reality, race, biology, and business. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Grand Street, Conjunctions, Granta, The Guardian, Common Knowledge, Wired, Tin House, Zoetrope, Paris Review, The Believer, Best American Short Stories, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

His books have won numerous recognitions including The Rosenthal and Vursell Awards; the James Fenimore Cooper Prize; the Corrington Award; a PEN/Hemingway Special Citation; the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, two Pushcart Prizes, and TIME Magazine’s Book of the Year. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award. He won the W.H. Smith Literary Award for best novel of 2003, and the Ambassador Book Award, 2004. His novel The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award. He has been both long-listed and short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize. The Overstory was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His work is translated into twenty-six languages.

Book Excerpt

She has searched for a name for the great ancient trunks of the uncut forest, the ones who keep the market in carbons and metabolites going. Now she has one:

Fungi mine stone to supply their trees with minerals. They hunt springtails, which they feed to their hosts. Trees, for their part, store extra sugar in their fungi’s synapses, to dole out to the sick and shaded and wounded….

Before it dies, a Douglas-fir, half a millennium old, will send its storehouse of chemicals back down into its roots and out through its fungal partners, donating its riches to the community pool in a last will and testament. We might well call these ancient benefactors giving trees….

The smell of her red cedar pencil elates her. The slow push of graphite across paper reminds her of the steady evaporation that lifts hundreds of gallons of water up hundreds of feet into a giant Douglas-fir trunk every day. The solitary act of sitting over the page and waiting for her hand to move may be as close as she’ll ever get to the enlightenment of plants.


The final chapter eludes her. She needs some impossible trifecta: hopeful, useful, and true. She could use Old Tjikko, that Norway Spruce who lives about midway up the length of Sweden. Above the ground, the tree is only a few hundred years old. But below, in the microbe-riddled soil, it reaches back nine thousand years or more—thousands of years older than this trick of writing she uses to try to capture it.

All morning long, she works to squeeze the nine-thousand-year saga into ten sentences: a procession of trunks falling and springing back up from the same root. There’s the hopeful she’s after. The truth is somewhat more brutal…

But hope and truth do nothing for humans, without use. In the clumpy, clumsy finger-paint of words, she searches for the use of Old Tjikko, up on that barren crest, endlessly dying and resurrecting in every change of climate. His use is to show that the world is not made for our utility. What use are we, to trees? She remembers the Buddha’s words: a tree is a wondrous thing that shelters, feeds, and protects all living things. It even offers shade to the axe-men who destroy it.


“The business of art,” wrote D. H. Lawrence, “is to reveal the relationship between man and his environment.” Few writers ever match the full scope and scale of that mandate, and fewer still bring such a spectrum of knowledge to the artistic challenge as Richard Powers, whose twelfth novel, The Overstory, now beckons him to Dayton for a long overdue celebration of his extraordinary work.

The Overstory immediately establishes its uniqueness through its interspecies ensemble: an aboreal cast of silent but potent characters — a Chestnut tree, a backyard mulberry, a Douglas fir — share the stage with a Vietnam vet, a college drop-out turned activist, an internet sorcerer, Iowa farmers and other types, each tree earning an intimate form of recognition and allegiance from a human counterpart.

Ultimately the novel can be read as an exploration and dramatization of how resistance to oppression grows. It demands that humans understand they aren’t the only show on earth, and that our mastery over nature, as the Amazon burns and coral reefs wither, has been a delusion. The raping of nature and the ravaging of the planet have customarily been saluted within a narrative of human progress and superiority. The Overstory would have us acknowledge, not through polemics but through brilliant storytelling, that the atrocity of a clear-cut mountain is not only a crime against nature but a crime against humanity itself.

Some critics have expressed surprise that a novelist might know anything about botany, but the marriage of art and science is esthetically, and ethically, at the core of Powers’ grand mission, here at the end of one millennium and the advance of another, to know the world in which we live. And in the case of The Overstory, to understand, as D. H. Lawrence himself believed, how the very presence of trees is vital to not just our existence, but whatever it is we mean when we talk about our spirits and gesture to our souls.

— Bob Shacochis
2019 finalist judge

2019 Nonfiction Winner

Eli Saslow - Rising Out of Hatred

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“What I appreciate most about my job as a reporter is it allows me a passport to spend time in places I wouldn’t otherwise go, with people I wouldn’t otherwise meet — and hopefully I get to take the reader along with me. That act feels even more essential at a time when Americans are increasingly isolated into our own bubbles by technology, by class, by ideology, and by geography. The best nonfiction journalism requires thorough investigation, but ultimately it is also an act of understanding, empathy, and peace.”

— Eli Saslow



In his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage for The Washington Post, Eli Saslow reveals the human stories behind the most divisive issues of our time. From racism and poverty to addiction and mass shootings, Saslow’s work uncovers the impact of major national issues on individuals and families.

Saslow won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories about food stamps and food insecurity in the United States. Collected into the book American Hunger, his stories were praised as “unsettling and nuanced…forcing readers to grapple with issues of poverty and dependency.” Saslow was also named one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing in 2013, 2016 and 2017. His stories in The Washington Post have been recognized with a George Polk Award, a PEN Literary Award, a James Beard Award, and other honors.

His latest book, Rising Out of Hatred, was published by Doubleday in the fall of 2018. It tells the transformational story of Derek Black, who was raised to take over the white nationalist movement before a drastic change of course caused him to abandon everything he was taught to believe. Saslow’s first book, Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President, examined President Obama’s daily habit of reading ten random letters from Americans. Booklist called Ten Letters “a testament to the power of the written word.”

Saslow is a longtime staff writer for The Washington Post, where he was initially a sportswriter. He has reported for 42 states and six countries. He covered the 2008 presidential campaign as well as President Obama’s life in the White House. Four of his stories have been anthologized in Best American Sportswriting, and he is an occasional contributor to ESPN The Magazine.

Saslow gives speeches about his books, about the role of journalism in highlighting social and public health issues, the craft of longform journalism, and the human impacts of public policy. He was the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor of Journalism at the University of Montana, and he has spoken about his work at Princeton, Syracuse University, UNC Wilmington, UVA, Northwestern, USC and elsewhere.

A 2004 graduate of Syracuse University, he now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children.


In an outstanding work of investigative journalism and literary reportage, Eli Saslow’s Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalistis a meticulous journey of how someone can embrace, promulgate, then liberate themselves from a radical ideology based on degradation and violence.

We are familiar with how fear and bigotry can radicalize and curdle into hatred. In Saslow’s book, we learn exactly how this process occurs, through a community of enablers that over a period of years offer unquestioning support and enthusiasm for hateful beliefs, while fostering a sense of uniqueness and belonging. What’s less familiar is how someone can “de-radicalize,” or leave such an extremist organization. What are the challenges involved in that process? What happens when someone initiates the first step into a life that isn’t solely defined by prejudice and injustice? Who does that person become? Saslow’s book demonstrates that someone breaking from an ideology isn’t a massive break at all but rather a series of small, consequential steps and gestures, each one nurtured by patience and compassion. In the same way it requires scores of committed people to keep someone tethered to hate, it likewise takes a community of individuals interested in challenging both themselves and others, to help transform and ultimately redeem someone that has known one way of thinking.

It takes an extraordinary effort to help someone dismantle and discard a toxic sense of identity. In an era that has both mainstreamed and rewarded bigotry, fear, and racial hatred, Saslow’s book offers a bold, detailed, and revelatory path for peace making, tolerance, and potential reconciliation, one based on empathy, compassion, and understanding. It is also a sobering challenge to each of its readers, individually and collectively, of the hard work we all must be prepared to undertake to make such a pathway possible. This book is an inspiration and a triumph.

– Brando Skyhorse
2019 finalist judges

Book Excerpt

Few people on his college campus knew that Derek Black had once been the rightful heir to America’s white nationalist movement—the son of Don Black, who founded the internet’s largest hate site, and the godson of David Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard. Few white nationalists knew exactly where Derek was living now, what he believed, or why he had changed his mind. On the dark corners of the internet, neo-Nazis and skinheads were calling him a traitor and plotting revenge. Derek had separated his life into two parts, a before and an after. . . .

His past was in fact present. Derek said he felt implicated by current events, sometimes even culpable. Maybe he had stopped planting the seeds of hate and division, but they were still growing all around him. “It’s a critical time. My relationship to the cultural moment is now more personal. I imagine I have some things to say bout all of it. Let’s find a time to meet.”

Derek took the greatest risk. Sometimes when we spent time together, he wondered how it would feel to see his old white nationalist talking points printed out again on the page. But his commitment to this project never wavered. If parts of his story traced the country’s path to this contentious racial moment, then maybe the details of his transformation can also point a way ahead.

Panel Discussion of "Rising Out of Hatred" at Clark County Public Library, July 28, 2020

On July 28, 2020, One Book, Many Communities organized a panel discussion on Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow. This book was the nonfiction winner of 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The event was held at the Clark County Public Library in Springfield, Ohio. The panelists (see photo below) included:

  • Faheem Curtis-Khidr, History Professor, Sinclair Community College
  • Marc DeWitt, Coordinator, African American Male Initiative, Sinclair Community College
  • Furaha Henry-Jones, English Professor, Sinclair Community College
  • Lynette Jones, Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures, Wright State University
  • Tiffany Taylor Smith, Executive Director for Inclusive Excellence Education, University of Dayton

The moderator was Vick Mickunas, the host of WYSO’s Book Nook weekly radio program.

Project Partners included: One Book, Many Communities, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, WYSO, Sinclair Community College, Wright State University and the University of Dayton. Participating libraries include: Arcanum Public Library, Bradford Public Library, Brown Memorial Public Library, Cardington-Lincoln Public Library, Champaign County Library, Clark County Public Library, J. R. Clark Public Library, Edison State Community College, Greenville Public Library, Marvin Memorial Library, Milton-Union Public Library, New Carlisle Public Library, New Madison Public Library, Piqua Public Library, Selover Public Library, St. Paris Public Library, Tipp City Public Library, Tri-County North School District, Troy-Miami County Public Library, Worch Memorial Public Library and Wornstaff Memorial Public Library.

Selected response to the last question:
"Are any of you feeling hopeful?"

“At the end of the day, I do this because I know I can make a difference. And it’s the people I come in contact with who want to make a difference with me and and we do that work together. That for me [is] the hope because I see it – I see the glimmers in my children’s eyes as they think about what they are capable of, what what they want to accomplish, what we’ve instilled in them, what my parents instilled in me and my brother and my sister, and we see it in our children. … For me it’s the hope and and knowing that … I may not see it in my lifetime, but I’d like to think for my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, the work that we are doing and and the shoulders that we stand on … we can accomplish what we accomplish because of the people who came before us and they had hope.”

Tiffany Taylor Smith
University of Dayton

Back row from left to right:

Tiffany Taylor Smith: Executive Director for Inclusive Excellence Education, University of Dayton
Vick Mickunas: Host – Book Nook, WYSO
Bill Martino: Library Director, Clark County Public Library
Marc DeWitt: Coordinator, African American
Male Initiative, Sinclair Community College

Front row from left to right:

Drew Wichterman: Adult Services Librarian, Tipp City Public Library
Faheem Curtis-Khidr: History Professor, Sinclair Community College
Lynette Jones: Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures, Wright State University
Furaha Henry-Jones: English Professor, Sinclair Community College

2019 Nonfiction Runner-up

Wil Haygood - Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing

“The mission that I gave myself in writing Tigerland was to excavate a forgotten story set against the America of 1968-69. Having earlier traveled the world as a correspondent to war zones, I came across a story in Columbus, Ohio, of black high school athletes set loose in that fiery year. Their peace-hungering hero, Martin Luther King Jr., had fallen to a white supremacist. The Tigers of East High School unleashed their talents not in the fires of the time, but on the basketball courts and baseball diamonds, winning two state championships in those sports that year. It was a history-making moment for them, and for the black and white coalition that supported their rise to glory. The black athlete – then as now – has never been far from the social and political swirl of America. Literature is the whistle that won’t stop blowing at game’s end; the stories go on and on.

I’m both honored and touched by the recognition given this saga by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Committee.”

— Wil Haygood         

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Wil Haygood has spent many years crisscrossing the worlds of book writing and journalism. His biographies of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall were all critically acclaimed and garnered literary awards. His chronicle of the life of White House butler Eugene Allen became the basis for the award-winning film, The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels and starring, among others, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, Haygood, a professor at Miami University, Ohio, has also been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and is the recipient of several honorary degrees. His latest book, Tigerland, was awarded the Ohioana Book Award, and was a finalist for the Benjamin Hooks National Book Award, and the Richard Wright-Zora Neale Hurston Award, while also being long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

Book Excerpt

The national media came to East on the first day of school in 1979, the first day that busing and integrations were official policy. This was the school that symbolized the struggle, this was the school of the champions. The media lights shone all day. A school that had been all black in 1978, the year before, now was 55 percent white. …

In time, Columbus proved to the nation that its citizenry could adapt to legally enforced integration. In time, the city received plaudits from head business leaders and even the Department of Justice in Washington.

In time, as the years rolled outward, local citizens would look back, swiveling against the memories of 1968-1969, when a group of high school basketball and baseball players had created their own legend. They had helped to bring hope to a city, giving it a reason to cheer and also proving that there was more than one route to Dr. King’s mountaintop.


In Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, Wil Haygood brings to life with immediacy and vitality the players, parents, coaches, and school leaders who worked together to rally a community during difficult and divisive times. He shows how sports can transcend mere athleticism and become a truly ennobling pursuit that brings out the best in the competitors on the court and the adults who shepherd them on their way.

Haygood creates a compelling portrait of a community that has been traditionally underrepresented in the media, showing us the most positive attributes of African American society in the form of young people who are viewed by their peers as heroes, rather than problematizing the same community by focusing only on those individuals who have gone astray. As such, Haygood’s book is far more original than many other efforts to describe black America, eschewing standardized tropes and enabling the reader to see beyond stereotypes. Through his reportage, Haygood makes visible the too often overlooked everyday heroes inside our schools who forge peace at the street level every single day. He includes character studies of star players, their white coach, and the black principal who worked with them all to create a school environment where young men and women of color could thrive.

The book becomes especially moving as the main subjects redouble their positive pursuits after they absorb the shocking news of the murders of black leaders by racist opponents on the national stage, creating a deep sense of anger and betrayal in African American neighborhoods across the country. By channeling their sadness and fury into slam dunk performances on the basketball court, the team elevates themselves and all who are cheering for them to succeed, despite everything that appears to stand in their way.

– Helen Thorpe
2019 finalist judges

2020 Finalists


10 Minutes, 38 Seconds by Elif Shafak (Bloomsbury)

In the pulsating moments after she has been murdered and left in a dumpster outside Istanbul, Tequila Leila enters a state of heightened awareness. Her heart has stopped beating but her brain is still active—for 10 minutes 38 seconds. While the Turkish sun rises and her friends sleep soundly nearby, she remembers her life—and the lives of others, outcasts like her. 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds is a moving novel on the power of friendship in our darkest times.

Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher (Arita Books)

In this debut novel from the MacDowell Colony fellow and National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, a young man prepares to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country. Powerful, important, and timely, Sadness Is A White Bird explores one man’s attempts to find a place for himself, discovering in the process a beautiful, against-the-odds love in the darkness of a never-ending conflict.

The Overstory by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton & Company)

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and are drawn into its unfolding catastrophe.

There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)

Fierce, funny, suspenseful, and thoroughly modern, There There offers a kaleidoscopic look at Native American life in Oakland, California. Writing in a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force, Tommy Orange has created a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide.

What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde (Mariner Books)

Here is an extraordinary story of exile, dislocation, and the emotional minefields between mothers and daughters; a story of love, guilt and dreams for a better future, vibrating with both sorrow and an unquenchable joie de vivre. With its startling honesty, dark wit, and irresistible momentum, What We Owe introduces a fierce and necessary new voice in international fiction.

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

White Chrysanthemum brings to life the heartbreaking history of Korea through the deeply moving and redemptive story of two sisters separated by World War II. It is a moving fictional account of a shockingly pervasive real-life assault—the sexual slavery of an estimated 200,000 Korean women during the Second World War.


Educated by Tara Westover (Random House)

With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Frederick Douglass by David Blight (Simon & Schuster)

In his “cinematic and deeply engaging” (The New York Times Book Review) biography, Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family.

I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi (Random House)

A fearless memoir about tribal life in Pakistan—and the act of violence that inspired one ambitious young woman to pursue a life of activism and female empowerment. And ultimately, she learned that the only way to eradicate the parts of a culture she despised was to fully embrace the parts of it that she loved.

Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow (Anchor)

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek’s story can tell us about America’s increasingly divided nature. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (Griffin)

With a foreword by Bryan Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, The Sun Does Shine tells Hinton’s dramatic 30-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

Tigerland by Will Haygood (Knopf)

From the author of the best-selling The Butler — an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Ohio, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year.

2019 Finalist Judges


Lesley Nneka Arimah

was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the Caine Prize, and a winner of the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize, an O. Henry Award, and other honors. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, GRANTA and has received support from The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, and MacDowell, among others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and her debut collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky won the 2017 Kirkus Prize. She lives in Minneapolis and is working on a novel about you.

   Bob Shacochus   

is the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize 2014 Award in Fiction for The Woman Who Lost Her Soul. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, the book was selected as a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR,, and others.

His 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 American Academy of Arts and Letters. Shacochis 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 Book Award for Best Nonfiction of the Year.

Shacochis is a contributing editor at Outside, a former columnist for Gentleman’s Quarterly, and has served as a contributing editor for Harper’s and GQ. His op-eds on the US military, Haiti, and Florida politics have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He is a member of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Honorary Advisory Board.


   Brando Skyhorse   

has a debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park (Simon & Schuster, 2010), that received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award, and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Take This Man: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, 2014) was an Amazon Best Book of the Month selection and named by Kirkus Reviews as one the Best Nonfiction Books of the year. Skyhorse has also co-edited an anthology, We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories Of Passing in America (Beacon Press, 2017). He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross Foundation, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, and was the 2014-2015 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University. Skyhorse is an Associate Professor of English at Indiana University in Bloomington.

    Helen Thorpe

is an award-winning journalist who lives in Denver, Colorado. Her first book, Just Like Us: The True Story Of Four Mexican Girls Coming Of Age In America, was published in 2009. It won the Colorado Book Award and was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post.

Her second book, Soldier Girls: The Battles Of Three Women At Home And At War, was published in 2014. TIME named it the number one nonfiction book of the year, and The New York Times said: “Through minute, almost claustrophobic, detail — using military and medical records, as well as therapists’ notes and personal correspondence — Thorpe achieves a staggering intimacy with her subjects.”

Her forthcoming book, The Newcomers, is about refugee resettlement. It celebrates the work of a high school English Language Acquisition teacher named Eddie Williams, whose classroom mirrors the global refugee crisis. The book is due out November 2017.

2019 Awards Ceremony

The 2016 Awards Ceremony was held at 5:00 pm on Sunday, November 5th, 2019, at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center at One West Second Street in Dayton, Ohio. Gilbert King was the Master of Ceremonies.

2019 Award Winners and Runners-up

Richard C. Holbrooke Award N. Scott Momaday

Fiction Award Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde for What We Owe

Nonfiction Award Eli Saslow for Rising Out of Hatred

Fiction Runner-up Richard Powers for The Overstory

Nonfiction Runner-up Wil Haygood for Tigerland

Additional Videos

Entire Awards Ceremony, November 5, 2019

2019 Author’s Reception, November 5, 2019

Conversations with the Authors, November 5, 2019

Photos by Andy Snow ( ©2019.

2019 Master of Ceremonies

Gilbert King

Gilbert King is the author of three books, most recently, Beneath a Ruthless Sun. His previous book, Devil in the Grove, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2013. A New York Times bestseller, the book was also named runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction, and was a finalist for both the Chautauqua Prize and the Edgar Award.

King has written about race, civil rights, and the death penalty for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic, and he is a Senior Fellow with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

He is currently a fellow at The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and he lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.