Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize were recently announced with none of the titles disappointing.  The prize is given annually, with winners and runners-up in Fiction and Nonfiction.  Descriptions are from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize press release.

The winner for Fiction went to Chang-rae Lee's Pulitzer Prize nominated work The Surrendered.  The book is an examination of the long-lasting scars of war-time horrors through the intricately entwined lives of a American soldier and an orphan of the Korean War whose paths cross years after first colliding in an orphanage in war-torn Korea. The combatitive relationship between the two show how the psychological damage done by the war continues to plague them.

The Fiction runner-up is Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste.  This work is about the relationships and deception between a father and his two sons during and after Ethiopia's revolution.  It's a work displaying the difficulty of keeping a family apart while the world around them is being torn apart.

In the Place of Justice, the memoir of Wilbert Rideau, was the winner for Nonfiction.  Rideau, a prison journalist in the violent Angola prison in Louisiana, was condemned to death in an unfair trial.  The sentence was modified to life imprisonment and Rideau became editor of a prison newsmagazine, which under his leadership became an important journal instrumental in reforming the Angola prison.

The runner-up for Nonfiction, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, tells the stories of three African-Americans who fled the South for a precarious future in the North and West.

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