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Shortlist includes Tigerland by Wil Haygood,
There There by Tommy Orange, Educated by Tara Westover;
Winners to be honored at gala ceremony on November 3rd, 2019

Dayton, OH (August 28, 2019) – Recognizing the power of literature to promote peace and reconciliation, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2019 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 at a gala ceremony in Dayton on November 3rd.

Writer N. Scott Momaday, who for more than half a century has illuminated both the ancient and contemporary lives of Native Americans through fiction, essays, and poetry, will receive the 2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the noted U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords.

The full list of finalists can be found below and at

“At a time when the Dayton community and the nation are still reeling from the August 4th mass shooting, this year’s finalists offer moving examples of people who have forged a path to peace and reconciliation through even the most violent and unjust situations,” said Sharon Rab, Chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “These books remind us that, as the planet grows ever more interconnected, violence can have far-reaching repercussions -- but so can peace, and every individual effort toward healing, whatever the circumstances, can go a long way toward making the world a better place.”

The 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize fiction finalists are:

  • Insurrecto by Gina Apostol, Soho Press: Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past. Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino school teacher.
  • Sadness Is A White Bird by Moriel Rothman Zecher, Atria Books: In this debut novel from the MacDowell Colony fellow and National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, a young man prepares to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country. Powerful, important, and timely, Sadness Is A White Bird explores one man’s attempts to find a place for himself, discovering in the process a beautiful, against-the-odds love in the darkness of a never-ending conflict.
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers, WW Norton & Co: Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and are drawn into its unfolding catastrophe.
  • There There by Tommy Orange, Knopf: Fierce, funny, suspenseful, and thoroughly modern, There There offers a kaleidoscopic look at Native American life in Oakland, California. Writing in a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force, Tommy Orange has created a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide.
  • What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt: Here is an extraordinary story of exile, dislocation, and the emotional minefields between mothers and daughters; a story of love, guilt and dreams for a better future, vibrating with both sorrow and an unquenchable joie de vivre. With its startling honesty, dark wit, and irresistible momentum, What We Owe introduces a fierce and necessary new voice in international fiction.
  • White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, GP Putnam’s Sons: White Chrysanthemum brings to life the heartbreaking history of Korea through the deeply moving and redemptive story of two sisters separated by World War II. It is a moving fictional account of a shockingly pervasive real-life assault—the sexual slavery of an estimated 200,000 Korean women during the Second World War.

The 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize nonfiction finalists are:

  • Educated by Tara Westover, Random House: With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David Blight, Simon and Schuster: In his “cinematic and deeply engaging” (The New York Times Book Review) biography, Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family.
  • I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi, Random House: A fearless memoir about tribal life in Pakistan—and the act of violence that inspired one ambitious young woman to pursue a life of activism and female empowerment. And ultimately, she learned that the only way to eradicate the parts of a culture she despised was to fully embrace the parts of it that she loved.
  • Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow, Doubleday: From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek's story can tell us about America's increasingly divided nature. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.
  • The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Hinton with Lara Love Hardin, St Martins: With a foreword by Bryan Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, The Sun Does Shine tells Hinton’s dramatic 30-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.
  • Tigerland by Wil Haygood, Knopf: From the author of the best-selling The Butler -- an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Ohio, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year.

A winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction will be announced on September 17, 2019. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $5,000. Finalists will be reviewed by a judging panel of prominent writers including Lesley Nneka Arimah (What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky), Bob Shacochis (The Woman Who Lost Her Soul), Brando Skyhorse (The Madonnas of Echo Park), and Helen Thorpe (Soldier Girls: The Battles Of Three Women At Home And At War; The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom).

To be eligible for the 2019 awards, English-language books had to be published or translated into English in 2018 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 is recognized 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 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is bestowed upon a writer whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission; previous honorees include Wendell Berry, Taylor Branch, Geraldine Brooks, Louise Erdrich, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Tim O'Brien, Marilynne Robinson, Gloria Steinem, Studs Terkel, Colm Tóibín, and Elie Wiesel. For more information visit the Dayton Literary Peace Prize media center at

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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