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Six fiction and six nonfiction books have been announced as finalists for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The annual prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, justice, and global understanding. The winners will be announced October 5.

Fiction Finalists


Barkskins

Barkskins

By Annie Proulx

Working as woodcutters under a feudal lord in seventeenth-century New France, two impoverished young Frenchmen follow separate journeys, one of extraordinary hardship, the other of wealth and craftiness, that shape their families throughout three centuries.


Homegoing

Homegoing

By Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration, and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.


Perfume River

Perfume River

By Robert Olen Butler

The story of a single North Florida family shaped and overshadowed by the Vietnam War and the estrangements between the fathers, sons, and brothers who supported or protested against it.


The Fortunes

The Fortunes

By Peter Ho Davies

Explores a century of American history through the lives of Chinese Americans, using the lives of four individuals to depict how an immigrant community survives and ultimately becomes American in the process.


The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

By Colson Whitehead

After Cora, a slave in pre-Civil War Georgia, escapes with another slave, Caesar, they seek the help of the Underground Railroad as they flee from state to state and try to evade a slave catcher, Ridgeway, who is determined to return them to the South.


The Veins of the Ocean

The Veins of the Ocean

By Patricia Engel

Blaming herself for the horrifying crime that sent her brother to death row, Reina Castillo moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys, where a friendship with an exiled Cuban helps her understand her connection to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean.


Nonfiction Finalists


City of Thorns

City of Thorns

By Ben Rawlence

A researcher for Human Rights Watch describes the refugee camp in Dabaab, home to those fleeing civil war in Somalia, and highlights the life of various residents, including a former child soldier, a schoolgirl, and a youth leader.


Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

By J.D. Vance

The story of the author’s family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past.


The Hundred-Year Walk

The Hundred-Year Walk

By Dawn Anahid MacKeen

The inspiring story of a young Armenian’s harrowing escape from genocide and of his granddaughter’s quest to retrace his steps.


The Song Poet

The Song Poet

By Kao Kalia Yang

A memoir of the author’s father, a Hmong song poet who was driven from the mountains of Laos by war and came to Minnesota as a refugee, sacrificing his gift for his children’s future in America.


What Have We Done

What Have We Done

By David Wood

Most Americans are now familiar with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and its prevalence among troops. This book examines the far more pervasive yet less understood experience of those we send to war: moral injury, the violation of our fundamental values of right and wrong that so often occurs in the impossible moral dilemmas of modern conflict.


While the City Slept

While the City Slept

By Eli Sanders

Examines the failing mental-health system in the United States through the story of Isaiah Kalebu, who invaded the home of an engaged Seattle lesbian couple, raped and cut them both, and murdered one of them.


Distinguished Achievement Award

Author Colm Tóibín will receive the 2017 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

Learn more about the Dayton Literary Peace Prize at daytonliterarypeaceprize.org.

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