Both of the books that have captured the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize explore the significant role religion can play in promoting either conflict or peace. The Prize honors writers “whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.”
“The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” by Bob Shacochis and “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” by Karima Bennoune have just been announced as fiction and nonfiction award winners, respectively.
“We are grateful for the insight the 2014 winning books give the reader as they explore the origin and consequences of fundamentalist terrorism at a time when the world is dealing with the terrorist threat to peace,” said Sharon Rab, co-chair and founder of the award.
In her book, “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism,” Bennoune profiles individuals from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia who risked persecution — and even death — to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries. Her profiles include artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists and educators.
“I cannot begin to express how much this award means to me personally — and how much the nomination has already meant to some of the victims’ families in the book. They will be blown away when the award itself is announced,” Bennoune wrote to Rab, when she first learned the news. “This is such important international recognition of what happened to them, and the fact that it matters.”
In “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul,” Shacochis writes about a wide range of catastrophic events over a 50-year span that have led to an endless cycle of vengeance and war between cultures.
The non-fiction runner-up is “Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe” by Jo Roberts. Fiction runner-up is “Wash” by first-time novelist Margaret Wrinkle, which explores the history of slave-breeding in the early 19th century through the character of a first-generation slave named Wash.
Organizers say for the first time in the history of the Prize, women comprise four out of the five honorees, including author Louise Erdrich, who will receive the 2014 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.
Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international peace prize awarded in the United States. This year’s honorees will be celebrated at an already sold-out event hosted by journalist Nick Clooney on Sunday, Nov. 9, at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton.
Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium; runners-up receive $1,000. To be eligible for the 2014 awards, English-language books must have been published or translated into English in 2013 and address the theme of peace on a variety of levels.
A panel of prominent writers including Faith Adiele, Michelle Latiolais, Lee Martin, Rubén Martínez and Maureen McCoy reviewed the 2014 finalists and selected this year’s winners and runners-up. A full list of the 2014 finalists can be found at: www.daytonliterarypeaceprize.org/2014-finalists.htm.