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Dear Readers,

We are delighted to announce the four authors who have been chosen as the winners and runners-up for the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize: Fiction Winner Patricia Engel for The Veins of the Ocean; Fiction Runner-up Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing; Nonfiction Winner David Wood for What Have We Done; Nonfiction Runner-up Ben Rawlence for City of Thorns. They join Colm Tóibín to fill out our 2017 winners.

These four books take us to Cuba, Columbia, Miami, Marathon Key, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ghana, and Kenya, with stories both real and fictional of people who are struggling to find personal peace. The four authors tell the stories to awaken us as readers and voters to help create a world where peace is possible. Real or fiction, the stories ring true at a time when truth is often obscured and peace seems impossible: we enter the worlds of the storytellers, realize our kinship with them, and draw strength from their struggles.

The 2017 award-winning books add to the rich collection of DLPP stories of the quest for peace around the world.

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Our Winners


Prize in Fiction

Engel 200

Patricia Engel is the author of Vida, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Fiction Award and Young Lions Fiction Award, and the acclaimed novel It's Not Love, It's Just Paris, winner of the International Latino Book Award. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Boston Review, A Public Space, Harvard Review, and Guernica, among other publications and anthologies, and received numerous awards including a 2014 fellowship in literature from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Literature can show us what is best in mankind and cast an unforgiving light on the ways we fail ourselves and one another. That an award should recognize the power of the written word to foster human understanding and eradicate imposed and imagined borders in the world community is remarkably brave, and reminds us that as artists we are called through our work, above all things, to the pursuit of peace. I am deeply grateful and honored that my novel has been recognized in this way." —Patricia Engel


Prize in Nonfiction

Wood 200

David Wood, a veteran war reporter, is a staff correspondent for the Huffington Post, where he won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on severely wounded warriors. A birthright Quaker and raised as a pacifist, Wood has spent more than thirty years covering the U.S. military and conflicts around the world, most recently in extended deployments embedded with American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"News of this award awakened in me powerful memories of the time I spent in Bosnia reporting on the atrocities of that war and on the incredible strength and perseverance of the families who endured those terrible years. And later, as I accompanied U.S. peacekeeping troops into Bosnia, documenting how the Dayton Peace Agreement was gradually transforming a fragile cease-fire into a structure enabling Bosnians and Serbs and Croats to begin the hard work of recovering their common humanity. That effort goes on, in Bosnia and globally, and I am immensely proud and grateful to be a small part of the peace-building work that the Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors." —David Wood


Runner-Up in Fiction

Gyasi 200

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn.

"Literature shows us the world as it truly is, but it also shows us the world as it could be—peaceful, empathetic, humane. It is literature that we so often turn to when we want to better understand each other, and I’m encouraged by the fact that people keep seeking this understanding. These days we are constantly confronted with our differences and we are urged to protect ourselves from “the other,” but one of the great powers of literature is not that it erases these difference, but rather that it highlights them in order to show us how complex we all are, how rich our world is because of this complexity. I am so honored to be recognized by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Thank you." —Yaa Gyasi


Runner-Up in Nonfiction

Rawlence 200

Ben Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He is the author of Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect. He lives in Wales with his family.

"Empathy is the beginning of peace between people. Stories that can show us the world through eyes not our own are the way that we learn empathy. In my view, all literature serves this goal of deepening our shared humanity. To be recognized by a prize for spreading peace is the highest honour a book can achieve." —Ben Rawlence


To learn more about our authors and their books, click here.


Our 12th annual gala event is sold out, and will take place November 5, 2017.

Please click to see our upcoming 2017 public events.

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