Aline Ohanesian’s book, “Orhan’s Inheritance,” is among 12 finalists announced for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize — half for fiction, half for non-fiction. A winner and runner-up in each category will be announced Oct. 11. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $2,500.
Set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, the book tells the story of Ohan, whose brilliant and eccentric grandfather, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But his grandfather’s will raises more questions than it answers. Kemal has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in a retirement home (Ararat Home of LA) in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan’s grandfather would have left their home to this woman rather than to his own family.
Joining Ohanesian as finalists are “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara; “Delicious Foods” by James Hannaham; “Green on Blue” by Elliot Ackerman; “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, and “Youngblood” by Matt Gallagher.
“Many of this year’s finalists explore the contradictory strength and fragility of the family bond, and the threat that external forces such as poverty, war, and prejudice can place on that bond,” said Sharon Rab, co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Through these narratives we explore the sources of conflict within the family but also what our immediate relationships can teach us about healing and reconciliation in the larger world.”
The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony hosted by award-winning journalist Nick Clooney in Dayton on Nov. 20.
Last month, organizers of the event announced that novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson will receive the 2016 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. Holbrooke was the U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that put an end to the three-and-half-year-long Bosnian War.
The finalists for nonfiction: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates; “Find Me Unafraid” by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner; “Nagasaki” by Susan Southard; “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America” by Wil Haygood; “The Reason You Walk” by Wab Kinew, and “The Train to Crystal City” by Jan Jarboe Russell.
Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize was launched in 2006. It is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States.
Finalists will be reviewed by a panel of prominent writers including Alexander Chee, Christine Schutt, Ruben Martinez and Evelyn McDonnell.