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Austin native Tim O'Brien wins Ohio Peace Prize

Vietnam veteran and author Tim O'Brien, an Austin native whose writings have shown war and its long-term impacts through a regular soldier's eyes, on Wednesday was named the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's lifetime achievement award.

O'Brien wrote about his Vietnam experience as an Army infantryman in the 1973 memoir: "If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home." Subsequent works have combined fiction with real details from his service.

The Dayton honor was renamed last year the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, for the late, longtime U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Dayton peace accords on Bosnia. The Dayton awards are meant to recognize the power of literature in promoting peace and global understanding, and the achievement award goes to a writer for body of work. Annual fiction and nonfiction awards will be announced later this year. Organizers released the award announcement first to The Associated Press.

O'Brien was born on Oct. 1, 1946, in Austin, and his family later moved to Worthington. His mother was an elementary school teacher, his father an insurance salesman and sailor in World War II.

The Austin Page Turners community book reading project featured O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" in 2003.


O'Brien won a National Book Award for Fiction in 1979 for "Going After Cacciato," and among his other books are "Northern Lights" and "In the Lake of the Woods." His 1990 story collection "The Things They Carried" earned recognition including the National Magazine Award for the title story.

"The Dayton Literary Peace Prize promotes the cause of peace by helping people understand the ugly realities of war on a deep, personal level, which is exactly what I strive to do in my work," O'Brien said in a statement. "Over what has been a long career, this award means more to me than any other — by far."

The 65-year-old Texas State University-San Marcos teacher also will receive $10,000.

He joins previous winners who include last year's honoree Barbara Kingsolver and Studs Terkel, Elie Wiesel and Taylor Branch. The literary peace prize launched in 2006 is supported by a combination of corporations, schools, groups that promote the arts and private donors.

Awards will be presented Nov. 11 in Dayton with journalist/entertainer Nick Clooney hosting.

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