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Shortlist includes All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, No Man’s Land by Elizabeth D. Samet

Winners to be honored at 10th annual gala on November 1st; Part of series of events commemorating 20th anniversary of historic Dayton Peace Accords ending war in Bosnia

Dayton, OH (September 9, 2015) – Recognizing the power of literature to promote peace and reconciliation, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2015 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. This year's winners will be honored on November 1st at the 10th Annual Dayton Literary Peace Prize Gala, one of a series of major events in Dayton this November commemorating the 20th anniversary of the historic peace agreement.

Organizers announced in August that author and activist Gloria Steinem (Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Revolution from Within) will be the recipient of the 2015 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the celebrated U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords.

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

"This year's finalists show us people navigating their way through a complex range of differences, whether it be nationality, race, class, or gender," said Sharon Rab, co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "Through these narratives, we discover either valuable tools for reconciling differences – or the dire consequences for all involved of choosing to remain in conflict.”

The 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize fiction finalists are

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: From the highly acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay: In An Untamed State, Roxane Gay delivers an assured debut with a story about privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce – ultimately showing how redemption can be found in the most unexpected of places.
  • Land Of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique: Chronicling three generations of the Bradshaw family in the Virgin Islands, Land of Love and Drowning weaves together stories of magic and lust, unknown connections and hidden mysteries, family legacies, and an island world undergoing historical changes.
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez: In this novel of hopes and dreams, guilt and love, Henríquez seamlessly interweaves the story of two star-crossed lovers and their families with the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America, offering a new definition of what it means to be American.
  • The Care And Management Of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear: Food becomes the ultimate expression of love in this World War I tale of blood-soaked trenches, home-front deprivation, and the changing roles of women, while profound and timeless questions arise about conflict, belief, and love.
  • The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil: This is an epic tragedy of brotherly love set against the dystopian backdrop of an alternative present-day Russia and swathed in all the magic of Russian folklore.

The 2015 nonfiction finalists are

  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: From one of the country's most visionary legal thinkers, social justice advocates, and MacArthur "geniuses," this is an intimate and unforgettable narrative journey into the broken American criminal justice system, an exquisitely rendered account of a heroic advocate's fights on behalf of the most powerless people in our society.
  • No Man’s Land by Elizabeth D. Samet: This book offers a moving, urgent examination of what it means to negotiate the tensions between soldier and civilian, between war and peace, between “over there” and “over here”—between life on the front and life at home.
  • The Other Side by Lacy M. Johnson: This is the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover, raising timely questions about gender roles and the epidemic of violence against women.
  • The Short And Tragic Life Of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs: Written by his college roommate, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is the brilliant, deeply-researched account of the life of Robert DeShaun Peace, a talented young African-American man who left the ghettos of Newark, New Jersey, on a full scholarship to Yale University, but who was tragically murdered in a basement marijuana lab after he graduated.
  • There Was And There Was Not by Meline Toumani: Frustrated by the all-consuming nature of her close-knit Armenian community’s quest for genocide recognition by Turkey, Toumani moved to Istanbul; this account of her “love thine enemy” experiment probes universal questions: how to belong to a community without conforming to it, how to acknowledge a tragedy without exploiting it, and, most important, how to remember a genocide without perpetuating the kind of hatred that makes such atrocities possible in the first place.
  • Who We Be by Jeff Chang: This book explores the changing (and unchanging) ways that the U.S. has viewed race over the past half-century, asking whether or not in the eras of “multicultural” and “post-racial” cultures if we really see each other more clearly.

A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 30th. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $1,000. Finalists will be reviewed by prominent writers including Ron Carlson, Christine Schutt, Faith Adiele, and Evelyn McDonnell.

To be eligible for the 2015 awards, English-language books must be published or translated into English in 2014 and address the theme of peace on a variety of levels, such as between individuals, among families and communities, or between 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. Additionally, the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is bestowed upon a writer whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission; previous honorees include Louise Erdrich, Wendell Berry, Taylor Branch, Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Tim O'Brien, Studs Terkel, and Elie Wiesel. For more information visit the Dayton Literary Peace Prize media center at

Press release in PDF format.

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