Given the current turbulence in terms of politics and culture, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which provides a $10,000 purse to each winning author for their book that “fosters peace, social justice, and global understanding,” seems especially topical this year. The prize for fiction went to Alice Hoffman for her novel, The World That We Knew (S&S), set in 1941 Berlin, about three young women’s struggles to resist fascism. The nonfiction is Chanel Miller for her memoir, Know My Name (Viking), about her trauma and recovery after being brutally raped in 2015 by Stanford University student Brock Turner.
Runners-up were The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Ballantine), a novel about a beekeeper and his wife escaping war in Syria by Christy Lefteri (fiction), and Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (Penguin) by Jennifer Eberhardt (nonfiction).
Margaret Atwood will receive the 2020 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995.
In a release, Sharon Rab, the chairman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, stated, “From racial bias to misogyny, this year’s winning books explored critical issues and events in an election year that could redefine the country. They show us how important our political choices are and how they can affect individuals all over the world.”
While the awards are typically announced during a gala celebration in Dayton, Ohio, in early November, this year’s awards ceremony has been postponed until June 27, 2021.The Dayton Literary Peace Prize was launched in 2006, inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords which ended the war in Bosnia.