Armenian Genocide Book Shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

DAYTON, Ohio – Dawn Anahid MacKeen’s book, The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey, is a finalist for the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize in nonfiction. She is one of twelve authors shortlisted in nonfiction and fiction for the award, which recognizes the power of literature to promote peace and reconciliation.

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, justice, and global understanding. This year’s winners will be honored at a gala ceremony in Dayton on November 5th.

The other finalists include Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, and J.D. Vance’s best-selling Hillbilly Elegy. “At a time of great uncertainty in the world, this year’s finalists reveal how we got to this point and offer powerful lessons on how we can heal, reconcile, and build a better world,” said Sharon Rab, co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. “Now more than ever, we need to celebrate authors who dare to explore the impact of war, exile, racism, and economic inequality and, more importantly, endeavor to offer hope in these tumultuous times.”

The Hundred-Year Walk tells the courageous story of MacKeen’s grandfather, Stepan Miskjian, one of the few to survive the massacres in the Deir Zor region of present-day Syria. Miskjian left hundreds of pages detailing his survival, which MacKeen, an investigative journalist, used to reconstruct his life and death march. She then retraced his steps across Turkey and Syria. The book alternates between the two accounts. Miskjian believed he’d lived in order to tell the world about the atrocities. “Being a witness to that satanic pogrom, I vowed it as my duty to put to paper what I saw,” Miskjian wrote in his notebooks.

Both the New York Post and Outside declared the book a “must read.” It was also awarded best biography by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and longlisted for the Chautauqua Prize. It’s beginning to be taught in universities and high schools. “I’m so honored that many students and readers are learning about the genocide for the first time through my grandfather’s story,” MacKeen said. “Education is the reason why I spent a decade on this book.”

Award organizers announced in July that Irish novelist, journalist, and essayist Colm Tóibín, whose fiction and nonfiction captures the impact of exile and political conflict on individual lives, will receive the 2017 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, named in honor of the noted U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords.

The full list of finalists can be found below and at www.daytonliterarypeaceprize.org.

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS

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