Minnesota author Louise Erdrich has won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction. Erdrich, who is of Ojibwa, French, and German ancestry, and a member of the Turtle Creek Chippewa nation in North Dakota, is known for her novels about Native American life. She has also explored themes related to German-American life in the upper midwest. In addition to her novels, Erdrich has written poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. The author turned this June, and is a past recipient of the National Book Award.
Two of Erdrich’s sisters are writers, and Erdrich also runs a bookstore in Minneapolis called Birchbark Books, which includes a small nonprofit publishing house called Wigwaas Press.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors writers whose works in some way contribute to the advancement of peace, social justice, and cultural understanding.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is an offshoot of the historic Dayton peace accords on Bosnia in 1995. The award was originally a peace prize in the early 2000’s, but later organizers changed its focus to honor literature’s power to make a more peaceful world. Each year there is a winner and runner-up in fiction and nonfiction categories, and the Richard C. Holbrooke Award is given to those writers who have created a body of work related to themes of peace and understanding. The award is named after the U.S. official who brokered the famous peace negotiations. Past winners of the Richard Holbrooke Award–originally entitled the “Lifetime Achievement Award’– include Elie Weisel, Studs Terkel, Geraldine Brooks, and Wendell Berry.