Dayton Literary Peace Prize goes to Bob Shacochis, Karima Bennoune


The Dayton Literary Peace Prize winners were announced this week: Bob Shacochis in fiction and Karima Bennoune in nonfiction. The $10,000 awards will be presented at a ceremony in Ohio in November.

The prizes stand out in the literary awards season for recognizing works of excellence that also promote social justice, understanding and peaceful conflict resolution.

Shacochis’ novel “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” is a 50-year saga about America’s war on terror and war on drugs -- with spies, journalists and power players -- that takes place in Haiti, Turkey, Croatia and Sarajevo.


In a statement, Shacochis said, “The Dayton Literary Peace Prize asks us to consider that all great literature is subversive -- of falsehoods and lies, of violence and aggression, of fear and intolerance, of greed and injustice and the love of power. It is in that artful subversion that we discover our humanity and the voice of our souls.”

Bennoune’s award is for “Your Fatwa Does Not Belong Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.” A professor at UC Davis School of Law, she was raised in the U.S. and Algeria.

Of her book, the judges wrote, “Bennoune displays a first rate literary sensibility, with finely detailed profiles that cast the reader deep into the point of view of her subjects. We receive necessary historical context, nuanced political analysis, brisk narrative, and just the right balance between the author’s subjectivity and writerly distance.”

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize; both awards grew out of the Dayton peace accords in 1995 that brought an end to the war in Bosnia.

An additional literary prize in lifetime achievement, named for statesman Richard Holbrooke, is to be awarded to writer Louise Erdrich. Previous recipients include Studs Terkel, Geraldine Brooks and Tim O’Brien.

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