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July 23, 2018

Dear Readers,

We are delighted to announce that John Irving, whose novels champion the marginalized members of society as he explores the major moral issues of our time, is the 2018 recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. This announcement initiates the 2018 season of awards and will be followed by the announcement of our finalists in August and our winners several weeks later.

Mr. Irving is a storyteller whose flawed main characters join the often quirky misfits populating his novels. These characters move through the joys and sorrows of their lives allowing us to examine and embrace the diversity of our fellow human beings and our own particular quirks. Throughout his writing, he reminds us of the ironies of life we all encounter and leaves us more tolerant of others.

If this is your introduction to Mr. Irving, you will find his humor blends with his ability to bring our greatest fears onto the page where we can deal with them. And as his characters deal with their fears, they show us the way to bring peace to our lives. He has justifiably been described as one of the world’s greatest living storytellers.

We look forward to sharing the rest of the DLPP’s exciting season with you.

Sharon-sig chair 530x38

2018 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

john irving

John Irving was born John Wallace Blunt, Jr., in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. He took his stepfather’s name when his mother remarried. Colin F.N. Irving taught in the History Department at Philips Exeter Academy, where John Irving graduated in 1961. For twenty years, Mr. Irving competed as a wrestler. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Mr. Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, when he was twenty-six. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times — winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for his short story “Interior Space.” In 2000, Mr. Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules — a Lasse Hallström film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2012, Mr. Irving won a Lambda Literary Award (in the Bisexual Fiction category) for his novel In One Person. His novels have been translated into more than thirty-five languages and his all-time best-selling novel, in every language, is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Read more...


Citation by Bob Shacochis

Over the past 50 years, no American literary lion has roared as mightily across the planet as the novelist John Irving, the indefatigable author of fourteen novels, ten of which have been international bestsellers.

The 76-year-old Irving has been widely celebrated, both here and abroad, as a master storyteller and comic genius, and praised resoundingly for his intrepid and fearless engagement with controversial subject matter, and for the depth of his empathetic humanity, both as an artist and as a person. Translated into more than 35 languages, Irving’s narcotically-addictive fictions have made him a household name in dozens of nations, and earned him the rare status of an acclaimed literary writer who has simultaneously achieved stratospheric popular commercial success. It can also be said with some certainty that John Irving is the only Literary Lion in history to be both inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame and presented with an Oscar for screenwriting.

Born in 1942 in Exeter, New Hampshire, Irving’s early wanderlust landed him in Vienna, Austria, at age 21, a decision which prevented Irving from ever being pigeon-holed as a Yankee regionalist. Beginning in 1968 with Setting Free The Bears, published a year after Irving had earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, Austria played a pivotal role is his first five novels. Although New England would serve as the focus of many of the author’s narratives, in later work as well Irving proved to be an enthusiastic globe-trotter, always expanding the playing field for his art and enhancing his universal appeal.

Irving, a famous contrarian, claims to disdain the label “Great American Novel,” and guffaws at any suggestion that such a thing might exist, yet he himself has written three works critically considered to be worthy of just such an appraisal. Read more...


John Irving's Response to Winning the DLPP Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

Novels and stories invite people into a writer’s worldview. For forty years and counting, I’ve written about sexual difference and sexual minorities — at times, when the prevailing literary culture labeled it bizarre or niche. I’ve written with the hope that the bigotry, hatred, and flat-out violence perpetrated on sexual minorities would become a relic of the past. In that sense I’ve written in protest — I’ve written protest novels. And yet, if I’ve written characters whose stories give them access to the breadth of human experience and emotion, I’ve done my job as a writer. Novels are my platform; if a prize helps bring attention to my subject matter, then I welcome it.
- John Irving

a prayer for owen meaney
DLPP18 book jacket Setting Free the Bears
DLPP18 book Jacket The World According to Garp
DLPP18 book jacket The Cider House Rules

We welcome your thoughts and reactions. Please contact Sharon Rab with ideas for future newsletters.


Our 13th annual awards gala will take place October 28, 2018.

Stay tuned for other upcoming events.


Write On!

This feature takes you to recent essays, op-eds or other short pieces published by our authors, or alerts you to new books by and forthcoming events featuring our authors and judges.

Learn more about our Holbrooke award-winner, John Irving.

Check out new books from Wil Haygood and Gilbert King.

gilbert king devil in the grove

Join us for DLPP's July Book Club Discussion

7/24/2018 - 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Conference Room 1A, 1st Floor
in Main Library

Join us as we discuss Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King. Devil in the Grove chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men. ~from Novelist

sunday am better

A Conversation with the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winners

Sunday, October 28, 2018
9:30 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. Limited seating; Reservations for first 300. Book signing after the program; Books will be available for purchase. Free underground parking is available near building 12 off of W. 4th Street.


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