Novelist, essayist, poet, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry will receive the 2013 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced August 12.
Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The prize celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding, and is named in honor of a celebrated U.S. diplomat who played an instrumental role in negotiating the Accords. The award, which recognizes authors for their complete body of work, will be presented to Berry by 2012 winner Tim O’Brien at a gala ceremony in Dayton on November 3, 2013.
Born in Kentucky during the Great Depression, Berry is a full-time farmer who has written more than 50 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that explore themes of community, conservation, and the quiet power of living a simple and slower life. Frequently compared to Henry David Thoreau, Berry is also one of today’s most fearless and eloquent cultural critics. His essays on issues ranging from the economy and globalization to marriage and national security have become modern-day manifestos influencing a generation of writers and activists including Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, and Barbara Kingsolver, the 2011 recipient of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.
Berry’s novels, poetry and essay collections include Nathan Coulter (1960); The Broken Ground (1964); A Place on Earth (1967); The Unsettling of America (1977); Citizenship Papers (2003); Hannah Coulter (2004); Bringing it to The Table (2009) and A Place in Time (2012). In 2011, he received The National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama and he was named the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer, the highest government honor for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.
“In a career spanning more than half a century, Wendell Berry has used poetry, fiction, and essays to offer a consistent, timely, and timeless reminder that we must live in harmony with the earth in order to live in harmony with each other,” said Sharon Rab, founder and co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “His writing has inspired readers to imagine the lives of people and things other than themselves—enemies, neighbors, plants, and animals—in order to advance the survival of humankind and Earth itself.”
“In a time that spends so many words and dollars upon conflict, it is encouraging to be noticed for having said a few words in favor of peace,” said Berry. The author will join the ranks of past winners of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, formerly called the Lifetime Achievement Award, including Studs Terkel (2006), Elie Wiesel (2007), Taylor Branch (2008), Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009), Geraldine Brooks (2010), Barbara Kingsolver (2011), and Tim O’Brien (2012).
Finalists for the 2013 Dayton Literary Peace Prize will be announced in mid-August 2013. More information about the prize is available at http://daytonliterarypeaceprize.org/press.htm.