DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Books on unfairness in the U.S. criminal justice system and about twin Russian brothers divided over ideology have won awards in an Ohio city’s annual honors celebrating the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize winner for nonfiction is “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, while Josh Weil won for fiction with “The Great Glass Sea.”
This year’s awards come during events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia that were negotiated in the southwest Ohio city. The literary awards began in 2006 in a tribute to the accords.
The awards come with $10,000 for first place and will be presented Nov. 1
Stevenson’s book probes the justice system, recounting tales of people who have found themselves at the mercy of the system such as a black Alabama man sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit.
Stevenson called his award “an extraordinary honor” and said the recognition was affirming and energizing.
“I had great uncertainty about how the book I wrote would be received, but I felt the issues of mass incarceration and excessive punishment compelled a narrative that could be read by a broader audience,” he said, adding that American still suffers “from our history of racial inequality.”
Jeff Hobbs’ “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace” was runner-up in nonfiction.
Weil tells a modern fable on Russian twins turned into pawns for opposing ideologies. Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” was runner-up in fiction.
Organizers announced earlier that author and activist Gloria Steinem will receive this year’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award that honors the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the Dayton peace agreement.
Past winners of the achievement award include Eli Wiesel, Studs Turkel, and Taylor Branch.
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