A Rochester writer may win a big honor after writing a book about small acts of humanity in the face of upheaval and disaster.
P.S. (Penny) Duffyrecently learned that her debut novel, "The Cartographer of No Man's Land,"was one of six finalists for the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prizein fiction. 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, social justice, and global understanding.
Duffy, who published the book last year at age 65, said she was stunned and thrilled by the nomination.
"First of all, I can't imagine, outside of the Pulitzer or something like that, any award I would be happier to be a finalist," she said. "This is short list. They pick six books in fiction and six books in non-fiction, and they all have that common goal of honoring enduring literary fiction that promotes peace and highlight conflicts between groups or communities or nations."
Duffy will talk about her book at a couple of local locations this month. At 9 a.m. Wednesday, she will take part in the History Center of Olmsted County'sPrincess Cafe lecture series at the history center.
"I will talk about the process of writing this book, putting together a work of historical fiction," she said. "I like to talk about balancing historical fact with the story so it doesn't overwhelm it. I think people will be interested in the process, especially retired people who may want to put out their memoirs, write down their memories for their families and the next generation."
At 7 p.m. Sept. 15, Duffy will be the invited speaker at the Essence of Assisi Lecture Seriesat Assisi Heights in Rochester. She said at that event she will talk about how a book, which takes place during wartime, can be a call for peace.
"The Cartographer of No Man's Land" follows Angus, the protagonist, during World War I as he defies his pacifist father's wishes and enters the war to find his lost brother-in-law. The novel has been honored by the Library Journal, Barnes and Noble, Booklist and even been part of the Oprah Book Club. The book has been published in Canada, Great Britain and Taiwan.
Now, the novel will compete with "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra, "In the Night of Time" by Antonio Munoz Molina, "Someone" by Alice McDermott, "The Woman Who Lost Her Soul" by Bob Shacochis and "Wash" by Margaret Wrinkle for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in fiction.
"I'm thrilled to be in that good company," she said. "All of these writers have been reviewed in every major publication. They are brilliant writers. I feel like, whether I win or not, I've won already just to be on this list and to be recognized as a book that is enhancing the conversation about peace."
The winners will be announced Sept. 24. They will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 9 in Dayton, Ohio.
Upcoming appearances for author P.S. (Penny) Duffy:
At 9 a.m., Wednesday
History Center of Olmsted County's Princess Cafe lecture series
1195 West Circle Drive S.W., Rochester.
Admission: Non-members: $2; Members: Free
At 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Essence of Assisi Lecture Series
1001 14th St. N.W., Rochester.