The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is dedicated to advancing peace through the power of the written word. Geraldine Brooks’s Horse and Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa’s His Name Is George Floyd have won the award for 2023.
Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Kentucky, 1850. Jarrett, an enslaved groom, and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. As the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name painting the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.
New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a 19th equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.
Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly drawn to one another through their shared interest in the horse – one studying the stallion’s bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.
Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred, Lexington, who became America’s greatest stud sire, Horse is a gripping, multi-layered reckoning with the legacy of enslavement and racism in America
His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Toluse Olorunnipa
The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off a series of protests in the United States and around the world, awakening millions to the dire need for reimagining this country’s broken systems of policing. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man’s stolen life: a life beset by suffocating systemic pressures that ultimately proved inescapable.
This biography of George Floyd shows the athletic young boy raised in the projects of Houston’s Third Ward who would become a father, a partner, a friend, and a man constantly in search of a better life. In retracing Floyd’s story, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa bring to light the determination Floyd carried as he faced the relentless struggle to survive as a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the larger context of America’s deeply troubled history of institutional racism, His Name Is George Floyd examines the Floyd family’s roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his Houston schools, the overpolicing of his communities, the devastating snares of the prison system, and his attempts to break free from drug dependence–putting today’s inequality into uniquely human terms. Drawing upon hundreds of interviews and extensive original reporting, Samuels and Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd’s America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.