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First-time L.A. author among Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalists

August 20, 2009 | 12:30 pm

Rachelkushner_0819

Rachel Kushner's debut, "Telex From Cuba," is one of six novels that are finalists for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, it was announced Tuesday. Inaugurated in 2006, the Dayton Literary Peace Prizes focus on the power of the written word, in fiction and nonfiction, to promote peace and understanding.

In 2008, Kushner talked to The Times about setting her book on the cusp of the Cuban Revolution. "I wanted to bring out the excitement of the revolution and also give some sense of why it overlooked some of its brighter possibilities," she said. "The thrill of liberation from the cane cutters, the loss of that world for the Americans. ... And also this very open moment ... of what could happen before things became ideological."

Kushner, whose book was also a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, has lived in Los Angeles since 2003.

Another Angeleno figures among this year's Dayton finalists. The seven nonfiction nominees include the book "My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Father’s Past" by Ariel Sabar. Sabar grew up in Southern California; his father is a professor at UCLA. It's his father's early, distant history -- in Israel and a remote area of Kurdish Iraq -- that he explores in the book, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography.

Last year's winners were Junot Díaz for his novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and Edwidge Danticat for her book "Brother, I'm Dying." Each winner receives $10,000 and all finalists get $1,000.

The complete list of this year's finalists is after the jump.

Fiction
"Say You’re One of Them" by Uwem Akpan
"Peace" by Richard Bausch
"The Plague of Doves" by Louise Erdrich
"Beijing Coma" by Ma Jian
"Telex From Cuba" by Rachel Kushner
"Song Yet Sung" by James McBride
      
Nonfiction
"Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization" by Nicholson Baker
"Dust From Our Eyes: An Unblinkered Look at Africa" by Joan Baxter
"Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas L. Friedman
"Writing in the Dark" by David Grossman
"My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Father’s Past" by Ariel Sabar
"A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face With Modern-Day Slavery" by Benjamin Skinner
"The Great Experiment" by Strobe Talbott

UPDATE: This post was originally made live saying "Edwidge Danticat for his book," which is clearly erroneous, as Ms. Danticat is a woman. The correction has been made.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

RELATED:  Dayton Literary Peace Prize nominees: Abani, Alarcon, Díaz and more

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