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Finalists include Michael Ondaatje, Ha Jin, Adam Hochschild;
Winners to be honored at gala Dayton ceremony on November 11th

Dayton, OH (August 22, 2012) – Celebrating the power of literature to promote peace, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2012 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, social justice, and global understanding.

The 2012 shortlist includes works by bestselling authors (The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin, To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild), first-time novelists (The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak), and a National Book Award winner (Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward).

The 2012 finalists explore a diverse range of challenging issues ranging from the damaging ripple effects of personal grief (The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen), to the long-term impact of war on both soldiers and civilians (What Is It Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes, Shards by Ismet Prcic). Two of this year’s nonfiction finalists also highlight the untold stories of women who have worked for peace and justice – from the Holocaust (A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead) to the Liberian revolution (Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee).

The shortlisted books are set in locations around the world, from Baghdad and Beirut (Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo) to Mississippi (Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward) to Bosnia and California (Shards by Ismet Prcic).

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 24th. 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 11th.

Organizers announced in July that author Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, Going After Cacciato) will be the recipient of the 2012 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, formerly known as the Lifetime Achievement Award and renamed last year in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat. Previous winners include Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel (2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009), Geraldine Brooks (2010), and Barbara Kingsolver (2011).

"This year’s finalists examine conflict and the need for tolerance across the spectrum of relationships, from family members to passengers on a ship to citizens of a country at war," said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Each work, in its own way, reminds us that our lives are filled with moral dilemmas every day, and each work offers an inspiring model to look to as we address them.”

The 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize fiction finalists are:

  • Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin (Pantheon Books): The award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash returns to his homeland in a searing new novel that unfurls during one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century: the Rape of Nanjing.

  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury): A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of poverty in rural Mississippi, Salvage the Bones won the National Book Award for fiction.

  • Shards by Ismet Prcic (Grove Atlantic): A harrowing coming-of-age novel about a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, who flees his war-torn homeland and struggles to reconcile his past with his present life in California.

  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf): The Cat’s Table is a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood, and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage from Sri Lanka to London.

  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (Riverhead): The Grief of Others is a beautifully moving family drama about love, loss and healing in the aftermath of a newborn's death.

  • The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak (Bellevue Literary Press): A stirring novel of brotherhood, survival, and coming-of-age during World War One.

The 2012 nonfiction finalists are:

  • A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead (HarperCollins): A Train in Winter tells the tale of 230 French women who were sent to Auschwitz for daring to oppose the Nazis, offering a fascinating glimpse of a little-known chapter in the history of World War II.

  • Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo (Free Press): Day of Honey is a beautifully written, fiercely intelligent memoir exploring the heightened meaning of cooking in war-torn Baghdad and Beirut.

  • Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee (The Perseus Books Group): In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together—and together they led a nation to peace.

  • To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): Hochschild brings World War I to life as never before by focusing on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes.

  • What Is It Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Grove/Atlantic): Marlantes draws on his own experiences during and after the Vietnam War in this deeply personal and candid look at the ordeal of combat and its aftermath on the individuals who endure it.

Finalists will be reviewed by a panel of prominent writers including Christopher Cerf, Alan Cheuse, Kenneth McClane, and April Smith.

To be eligible for the 2012 awards, English-language books must be published or translated into English in 2012 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. An annual lifetime achievement award, renamed the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011, 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, Geraldine Brooks, and Barbara Kingsolver.

Press release in PDF format.

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