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September 17, 2018

Dear Readers,

We are delighted to announce the four authors who have been chosen as the winners and runners-up for the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize: Fiction Winner Hala Alyan for Salt Houses; Fiction Runner-up Min Jin Lee for Pachinko; Nonfiction Winner Ta-Nehisi Coates for We Were Eight Years in Power; Nonfiction Runner-up Michelle Kuo for Reading with Patrick. They join Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement winner John Irving to fill out our 2018 winners.

These four books explore the quest for a sense of home and belonging through people who have, in one way or another, been displaced. As their characters search for personal peace in Palestine, Kuwait, Jordan, Beirut, Korea, Japan, the South Side of Chicago, Harlem, and the Mississippi Delta, the reader searches with them. Their stories 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 2018 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

Alyan 200

Hala Alyan is an award-winning Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in numerous journals including the Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Colorado Review. She lives in New York.

“One of my earliest memories is watching my father’s face light up as I chatted excitedly about the first book I read on my own. It’s taken me years to truly understand that moment—that, in that instant, my father witnessed my foray into the sacred world of fiction, of perspective-taking and erasing borders, of understanding the complexity of others. He watched me untangle from the confines of immigration, the Gulf War we’d just fled from, and the ensuing otherness, and when I began to write my own stories, that sense of freedom magnified. Writing has taught me to pay homage to my ancestors and envision the world after I am long gone; it has empowered me to tell stories of oppression and restoration, to envision peace as something tangible. I am my most human when I am writing—my most alert and engaged and compassionate. To have my novel seen as a conduit for peace-building is remarkably humbling. Thank you for the honor of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.” —Hala Alyan


Prize in Nonfiction

Coates 200

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His book Between the World and Me won the National Book Award in 2015. Coates is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

When I began writing seriously, I was determined to never be an interpreter. It did not occur to me that writing is always some form of interpretation, some form of translating the specificity of one’s roots or expertise or even one’s own mind into language that can be absorbed and assimilated into the consciousness of a broader audience.We Were Eight Years in Power


Runner-Up in Fiction

Lee 200

Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (2018) and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard (2018-9). Lee’s recent novel Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award, a New York Times bestseller, a Top 10 Books of the Year for The New York Times, a joint book club selection of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times, and on over 75 best-of-the-year lists. Lee’s debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The New York Times, NPR’s Fresh Air and USA Today. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, Guardian, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times, Vogue, and Wall Street Journal. She has served as a columnist for The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s leading newspaper, for three seasons.

"The world is broken because we do not love enough. War, peace, and art require at least three elements: imagination, will, and action—and ironically, all three are enacted because men and women feel love. This is the central paradox—we love—the other, self, family, faith, or nation—and we use that love—of something, or someone, for anything—to justify our violence, compromises, and creation. We know that peace is far more difficult than war or art, because peace requires both forgiveness and restraint; so somehow, we must learn to love peace far more than war. If literature bears witness to true narrative and if it awakens compassion, reconciliation may indeed be possible. Where men and women have failed to love, literature may inspire greater love for all those we’d once thought we feared or hated. I write fiction because I believe that our love can refine our worse nature. I am deeply honored to join the Dayton Literary Peace Prize family of writers as we pursue our collective call toward global peace.” —Min Jin Lee


Runner-Up in Nonfiction

Kuo 200

Michelle Kuo was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kuo’s parents are immigrants from Taiwan. She taught English at an alternative school in the Arkansas Delta for two years. After teaching, she attended Harvard Law School as a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and worked in legal aid at a nonprofit for Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, California, on a Skadden Fellowship, with a focus on tenants’ and workers’ rights. She has volunteered as a teacher at the Prison University Project, the only college-degree-granting program in a California prison, and clerked for the Honorable Jon T. Noonan on the Ninth Circuit. Currently, she teaches courses on race, law, and society at the American University of Paris, where she recently won the Board of Trustees Award for Distinguished Teaching.

"By telling the story of an incarcerated person learning to read and write, I hoped to show how books can charge an inner life with imagination and beauty. I sought to grapple openly with the question: What do we owe each other in a world of inequality, and how can we do the hard work of coming to know one another? Reading together is one way to create a shared world. I am deeply grateful to be recognized by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In honoring my book, it honors the idea that there can be no peace without economic and racial equality, and no freedom without literacy." —Michelle Kuo


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


Our 13th annual gala event is sold out, and will take place October 28, 2018.

Please click to see our upcoming 2018 public events.

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Join us for a DLPP Community Conversation at the Dayton Metro Library

10/11/2018 - 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Conference Room 1A, 1st Floor
Main Library, 215 E. 3rd St.
Dayton, OH 45402

Mr. Ted Kissell, former athletic director of the University of Dayton, will lead the discussion. Wil Haygood will be present.

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Just a few seats left!

A Conversation with the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winners

Limited seating: reservations accepted for the first 300

Sunday, October 28, 2018
9:00 AM Registration; 10:00 AM Program

Sinclair Community College, Ponitz Center, Building 12

Reservations are required. RSVP to Linda Harrison via e-mail by Wednesday, October 24, 2018. The $15 donation is payable in cash or check to DLPP Foundation at the Registration Table. No credit cards. Book signing after the program; books will be available for purchase. Free underground parking is available under Building 12 off of W. 4th Street.


Support the Dayton Literary Peace Prize when you shop with Amazon using this link.

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