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Finalists include Chang-rae Lee, Kai Bird, Isabel Wilkerson;
Winners to be honored at gala Dayton ceremony on November 13th

Dayton, OH (August 24, 2011) – Celebrating the power of literature to promote peace, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction and nonfiction.

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, nonviolent conflict resolution, and global understanding.

The shortlist includes works by best-selling authors (The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand), first-time novelists (Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne), and Pulitzer Prize-winners (The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird).

The 2011 finalists also explore a diverse range of challenging issues ranging from cultural dislocation (How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu), to our flawed penal system (In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau), to the long-term personal impact of war (The Gendarme by Mark Mustian).

The shortlisted books are also set in locations around the world, including Burma/Myanmar (For Us Surrender is Out of the Question by Mac McClelland), Ethiopia (Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste), and Nepal (Little Princes by Conor Grennan).

The full list of finalists can be found below and at:

A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 20th. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $1,000.00. They will be honored at a gala ceremony hosted by award-winning journalist Nick Clooney in Dayton on Sunday, November 13th.

Organizers previously announced that author Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, The Lacuna, Small Wonder) will be the recipient of the 2011 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, formerly known as the Lifetime Achievement Award and renamed this year in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat. Previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners include Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel (2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009), and Geraldine Brooks (2010).

"This year’s finalists help readers to see pressing political issues through the eyes of individuals whose lives are inextricably bound up with the larger world around them," said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Each work, in its own way, reminds us that even the most personal decisions can have a profound effect on the lives of people halfway around the globe and far into the future.”

The 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize fiction finalists are:

  • The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead Books): The lives of a Korean War orphan and a young GI collide in an orphanage where they vie for the attentions of a beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything.
  • How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu (Riverhead Books): A young man leaves behind his marriage and job in New York to retrace his parents’ honeymoon as young Ethiopian immigrants, weaving together a family history that will take him from the war-torn country of his parents' youth to a brighter vision of his life in America today.
  • Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (W. W. Norton and Company): An epic tale of a father and two sons, of betrayals and loyalties, and a family unraveling in the wake of Ethiopia’s revolution.
  • The Gendarme by Mark Mustian (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam): A World War I veteran, nearing the end of his life, is suddenly beset by memories of escorting Armenians from Turkey, churning up troubling details he and others have denied or purposely forgotten.
  • Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne (HarperCollins Publishers): A young financial wizard from Qatar, fluent in numbers yet baffled by human connections, creates a computer program that predicts oil futures and reaps record profits for his American company – but carries heavy moral implications that force him to examine his loyalties.

The 2011 nonfiction finalists are:

  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978 by Kai Bird (Scribner): Pulitzer Prize winner Kai Bird’s memoir of his early years spent in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon provides an original and illuminating perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • Little Princes by Conor Grennan (HarperCollins Publishers): After trading his day job for a life of globe-trekking adventure, the author finds a greater purpose when he volunteers at a Nepalese “orphanage” full of children whose families believe they’ve been led out of the war-torn country to safety.
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House): The bestselling author of Seabiscuit offers a vivid account of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II and drew on deep wellsprings of ingenuity, optimism, and humor to survive thousands of miles across the ocean followed by even greater trials as a prisoner of war.
  • For Us Surrender is Out of the Question by Mac McClelland (Soft Skull Press): Part investigative journalism, part memoir, McClelland’s fascinating debut recalls her experiences as a Midwestern twenty-something girl illegally aiding refugee activists on the Burma-Thailand border.
  • In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau (Alfred A. Knopf): A death row inmate in Louisiana's Angola penitentiary, at the time the most violent in the nation, finds redemption as a prison journalist in this uplifting memoir.
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House): Wilkerson tells the stories of three black Americans who fled the South for an uncertain existence in the urban North and West in what became known as the Great Migration of the mid-20th century.

Finalists will be reviewed by a panel of prominent writers including Ken McClane, Eric Bates, Ron Carlson, and April Smith.

To be eligible for the 2011 awards, English-language books must be published or translated into English in 2010 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.

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. The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished 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, and Geraldine Brooks.

Press release in PDF format.

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Promoting Peace and Literacy Around the World

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