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Winners to receive $10,000 Prize;
In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy and
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie Named Runners-Up

Dayton, OH (September 22, 2010) – Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and The Book Of Night Women by Marlon James today were named winners of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction and fiction, respectively.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation also announced this year’s runners-up: In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy (nonfiction) and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie (fiction). The Foundation previously announced that historical novelist Geraldine Brooks (People of the Book, March, Year of Wonders) will receive the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The Prize celebrates the power of literature to promote peace and global understanding.

Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $1,000.They will be honored at a ceremony hosted by award-winning journalist Nick Clooney on Sunday, November 7th at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio.

"From religious discrimination and immigration to racism and xenophobia, this year’s winners tackle challenging issues which are too often debated with sound bites and rhetoric only,” said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. “With wisdom, grace, and humanity, these books deliver much-needed relief from the political discourse, offering light instead of heat, and hope rather than despair.”

Zeitoun (McSweeney's) is author Dave Eggers’ meticulously researched story of a prosperous Syrian-American father of four who chose to stay in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina and protect his house and business—but then abruptly disappeared.

“This honor means the world to me, and I share this with the Zeitoun family, who had faith in me to tell their story,” said Eggers. “This award comes at an interesting moment, when Muslims in America are experiencing a new wave of xenophobia and unfounded suspicion. Meanwhile, the Zeitouns have been speaking at colleges, at temples and churches, and everywhere they go people of all faiths tell them that they're the all-American family, and each appearance ends in mutual admiration and respect. Which means, ultimately, that listening to each other, getting to know the people behind the headlines, the shrill debates, means everything. If we begin to listen to each other, to listen before speaking — before judging —then we go a long way toward a more empathetic and peaceful world."

Set during a Jamaican slave revolt at the end of the eighteenth century, The Book of Night Women (Penguin Group; G. P. Putham's Sons/Riverhead Books) by Marlon James tells the story of Lilith, a defiant and mysterious woman who pushes at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave. By honestly exploring the cruelty, brutality, and degradation of slavery, James reveals its lasting and devastating impact on mankind.

“It can be lonely, believing that books can still change how we think,” said James. “The Dayton Literary Peace Prize reminds us that the book is still our most eloquent tool to speak truth to power, and to bear witness to the good and not so good in human nature.”

The 2010 runners-up are:

  • Nonfiction: In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy (Free Press): A personal, moving, and vibrant picture of the Kashmir Valley, one of the most beautiful and troubled places in the world -- described through the experiences of one family, whose fortunes have changed dramatically with those of the region.

  • Fiction: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adiche (Knopf): Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie turns her penetrating eye on both her native country and America in twelve dazzling stories that explore the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.

To be eligible for the 2010 awards, English-language books must have been published or translated into English in 2009 and address the theme of peace on a variety of levels, such as between individuals, among families and communities, or among nations, religions, or ethnic groups.

A panel of prominent writers including Ken McClane, Cullen Murphy, Katherine Vaz, and Nancy Zafris reviewed the 2010 finalists and selected this year’s winners and runners-up. A full list of the 2010 finalists can be found at:

About the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Click here to visit our website The Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Launched in 2006, it has already established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious literary honors, and is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States. As an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards a $10,000 cash prize each year to one fiction and one nonfiction author whose work advances peace as a solution to conflict, and leads readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view. An annual lifetime achievement award is also bestowed upon a writer whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission; previous honorees include Studs Terkel, Elie Wiesel, Taylor Branch, Nicholas Kristof, and Sheryl WuDunn.

Press release in PDF format.

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Promoting Peace and Literacy Around the World

Dayton Literary Peace Prize, P. O. Box 461, Wright Brothers Branch, Dayton, OH 45409-0461
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