Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner
This is the story of two young people from completely different worlds: Kennedy Odede from Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, and Jessica Posner from Denver, Colorado. Kennedy foraged for food, lived on the street, and taught himself to read with old newspapers. When an American volunteer gave him the work of Mandela, Garvey, and King, teenaged Kennedy decided he was going to change his life and his community. He bought a soccer ball and started a youth empowerment group he called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). Then in 2007, Wesleyan undergraduate Jessica Posner spent a semester abroad in Kenya working with SHOFCO. Breaking all convention, she decided to live in Kibera with Kennedy, and they fell in love.Their connection persisted, and Jessica helped Kennedy to escape political violence and fulfill his lifelong dream of an education, at Wesleyan University.
This book is an account of the enduring impact of nuclear war, told through the stories of those who survived. On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a small port city on Japan's southernmost island. An estimated 74,000 people died within the first five months, and another 75,000 were injured. Published on the seventieth anniversary of the bombing, Nagasaki takes readers from the morning of the bombing to the city today, telling the first-hand experiences of five survivors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the devastation. Susan Southard has spent years interviewing hibakusha ("bomb-affected people") and researching the physical, emotional, and social challenges of post-atomic life. She weaves together eyewitness accounts with analysis of the policies of censorship and denial that colored much of what was reported about the bombing both in the United States and Japan.
Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace. Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
Colonialism and colonial warfare; global capitalism and hidden labor; racial and sexual violence and the burden of history preoccupy this year’s honorees, but also home and the meaning of home, the function of community, memory, fidelity, and redemption. In fiction, the winning novel is The Sympathizer, by Vietnamese-born American novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. This debut novel has also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The fiction runner up is Delicious Foods: A Novel, the second novel published by James Hanniham. Delicious Foods has also received the 2016 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In non-fiction the winning and runner-up works are their authors’ first books. Susan Southard’s deeply researched Nagisaki: Life after Nuclear War foregrounds survivors’ stories and can be seen as a companion piece to John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946). Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner’s Find Me Unafraid joins other DLPP nonfiction honorees in tackling endemic social and political injustices on both a personal and global scale. The 2016 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Marilynne Robinson is author of four luminous novels and a similar number of closely argued essay collections on faith, humanist, and environmental issues. Click on the honoree’s name in this paragraph for more information.
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