Dayton Upfront

 Dayton Upfront

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is putting Dayton on the literary map.

By Jennifer Paterson Lorenzetti

In 1995, Dayton was the site of a summit aimed at ending the Bosnian War. The summit and its results became known as the Dayton Peace Accords, with the final agreement signed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Today, nearly two decades later, the spirit of the Dayton Peace Accords is alive in the Dayton Literary Peace Prize (DLPP). Chaired by Sharon Rab, the DLPP has gained a perhaps-surprising amount of recognition since its founding in 2006. “The worldwide literary community has embraced this prize,” Rab says.

The Prize has put Dayton on the literary map. Rab has spoken about the prize in such august media outlets as The Washington Post, and each year she sees nominations come in from over 200 publishers who believe they have a book that meets the exacting standards of combining exceptional writing with a focus on peace. Several of these publishers are international companies that do not have a U.S.-based counterpart or imprint, indicating the global reach of the prize.

Perhaps more impressive is the impact the Prize has on the public. The 2014 Nonfiction award winner, Karima Bennoune, had a memorable experience on learning that her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, had won. “She heard from a weeping woman in Tunisia who said, ‘If this book can win this prize, there is hope,’” Rab says.

Although not everyone in Dayton is familiar with the award, those who follow developments in the literary world have. The 2014 awards event, held in November, sold out quickly, and Rab reports that she regularly hears from eager volunteers and supporters who want to help in some way with the process. “It’s wonderful to have that kind of following,” she says.

Most importantly, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize continues the tradition started with the Dayton Peace Accords of keeping both the community and the world focused on how individuals can promote peace. “People walk away with such hope,” Rab says.

Dayton’s Literary Tradition

Even before the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Dayton was home to writers who made their mark on the international literary scene. Some of our favorites include:

Katrina Kittle: This novelist is a former teacher at The Miami Valley School and author of books like Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals.

Tim Waggoner: Waggoner is the author of numerous books and short stories for adult and young adult readers, including Temple of the Dragonslayer, Return of the Sorceress, Dark Ages: Gangrel, Exalted: A Shadow Over Heaven’s Eye, Nekropolis and Defender: Hyperswarm.

Mike Peters: Peters is a cartoonist, famous for Mother Goose and Grimm as well as editorial cartoons.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Dunbar was a poet, novelist, and playwright born to parents who were formerly slaves. His name graces many schools, hospitals and other institutions across the nation.

Erma Bombeck: Bombeck brought her trademark humorous touch to topics of suburban domestic life throughout the 1970s and ‘80s.