In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2007 photo, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer N. Scott Momaday recites a poem at the inauguration of Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials selected novelist, poet and essayist N. Scott Momaday for the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

Pulitzer Prize winner to receive Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s top honor 

A Pulitzer Prize winning author praised for illuminating “both the ancient and contemporary lives of Native Americans through fiction, essays and poetry” is expected to come to Dayton to be honored for a career that spans more than a half century. 

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N. Scott Momaday will receive the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s 2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award on Nov. 3, 2019. 

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 29: (L-R) Michael Kantor, Youngsun Palmer, Nancy Novack, N. Scott Momaday, Jeffrey Palmer and Shirley K. Sneve attend the "N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear" Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival at Library Center Theater on January 29, 2019 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

 “N. Scott Momaday’s body of work illustrates the power of ritual, imagination, and storytelling to mediate between cultures, produce peace through intercultural understanding, and heal individuals damaged by conflict,” Sharon Rab, the founder and chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, said in a news release. “By honoring and safeguarding the storytelling traditions of our nation’s indigenous communities, his writings at the same time affirm the value of a multicultural society.”

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The Holbrooke award is named for Richard Holbrooke, an American diplomat credited with brokering the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord that stopped the war between Bosnian, Croat and Serb forces in the Balkans.

That award is given annually to an author whose body of work reflects the Prize's mission.

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In winning the lifetime achievement award, Momaday will join a list of writers that include John Irving (2018), Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel(2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009), Geraldine Brooks (2010), Barbara Kingsolver (2011), Tim O'Brien (2012), Wendell Berry (2013), Louise Erdrich(2014), Gloria Steinem (2015) and Marilynne Robinson (2016).

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 29: Film Subject N. Scott Momaday attends the "N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear" Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival at Library Center Theater on January 29, 2019 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Raised on Southwestern Navajo, Apache and Pueblo reservations, Navarre Scott Momaday’s first novel, “House Made of Dawn” (1968), won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and has been widely credited with spearheading the breakthrough of Native American literature into the mainstream.

The book tells the story of a young man who returns to his Kiowa pueblo after a stint in the U.S. Army. 

Momaday’s other works include: “The Way to Rainy Mountain” (1969) and “The Names: A Memoir” (1976).

His stories, essays and poems have been published in a list of acclaimed collections that include “Angle of Geese and Other Poems” (1974), “The Man Made of Words: Essays, Stories, Passages” (1997) and “The Death of Sitting Bear: New and Selected Poems” (due in 2020). 

Momaday received the National Medal of Arts and was named Oklahoma’s Centennial Poet Laureate in 2007.

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Established in 2006 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."

Finalists for the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize will be announced Aug. 13.

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