Author Tim O’Brien has been awarded the 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran whose work often deals with war, and who is perhaps most well known for his short story collection The Things They Carried, will receive $10,000.
Established in 2006 and inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is given internationally for literature that promotes peace, social justice, and global understanding. In addition to two annual prizes given for a work of fiction and a work of nonfiction published in the previous year, the Richard C. Holbrooke Award—named for the United States diplomat who played an instrumental role in negotiating the Dayton Accords—is given annually for a body of work.
"The Dayton Literary Peace Prize promotes the cause of peace by helping people understand the ugly realities of war on a deep, personal level, which is exactly what I strive to do in my work," O'Brien said. "Over what has been a long career, this award means more to me than any other—by far."
Originally from Austin, Minnesota, O’Brien served in the United States Army in Vietnam for a year, and later worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post. His first book was the 1973 memoir about his experiences at war, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. He received a National Book Award in 1979 for his novel about Vietnam, Going After Cacciato (Doubleday); his 1990 collection, The Things They Carried (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger; In the Lake of the Woods (Penguin, 1995) received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction. His most recent novel is July, July, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2002. The sixty-five-year-old O’Brien lives in central Texas and teaches writing in the MFA program at Texas State University in San Marcos.
Previous Peace Prize winners include Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver, Studs Terkel, and Elie Wiesel. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on November 11.
In the following 2010 Art Works podcast from the National Endowment for the Arts and Public Radio Exchange, O’Brien discusses The Things They Carried on the twentieth anniversary of its release.