Two days after Jon Papernick told me that "I'm not certain that literature plays any role in the evolution or
resolution of international conflicts" (a statement with which I largely agree, though I also concur with his assessment that "literature can hold a mirror up to the world and
reflect it back in a more human and less biased way than one might see pictured
in the media"), I get an email about the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which will be bestowed this Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.
"Celebrating the power of literature to promote peace and non-violent conflict resolution," the prize has been in existence since 2006 and is an outgrowth of the Dayton Peace Prize, created to honor the peace accords that ended the Bosnian war. This year, Junot Diaz will get the fiction award for The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, and Edwidge Danticat will get the non-fiction prize for Brother, I'm Dying. Taylor Branch, who wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement in the trilogy America in the King Years, will get a Lifetime Achievement Award.