Six finalists named for 2016 Chautauqua Prize

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The winner of the fifth annual literary prize awarded by Chautauqua Institution will be announced in May

The Chautauqua Prize

The Chautauqua Prize

Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce six exceptional books as the 2016 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its fifth year:

  • "It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War," by Lynsey Addario (Penguin Press)
  • "Off the Radar: A Father’s Secret, a Mother’s Heroism, and a Son’s Quest," by Cyrus Copeland (Blue Rider Press)
  • "King of the Gypsies: Stories," by Lenore Myka (BkMk Press)
  • "Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God," by Steven Nightingale (Counterpoint Press)
  • "Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War," by Susan Southard (Viking)
  • "No. 4 Imperial Lane," by Jonathan Weisman (Twelve Books)

The winning book will be selected from this shortlist and announced in mid-May.

War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir "It’s What I Do" is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the 21st century, has shaped her life. Chautauqua readers called it “inspirational and horrifying,” “one of the best books I have read in a long time,” and “well written from the first word to the last. … It is of both a high-quality literary value while being a book that is hard to put down.”

Cyrus Copeland’s father was an American executive arrested in Iran for spying at the time of the 1979 hostage crisis, then put on trial for his life in a Revolutionary Court. "Off the Radar" is a memoir and mystery, a spy story and a tale of the relationship between father and son. The book is “an intriguing story well told,” readers said, lauding it as being an “outstanding” work of “timeless and timely material, the sincerity of the quest in harmony.”

In the short story collection "King of the Gypsies," Lenore Myka takes the reader through numerous facets of Romanian life, namely the struggles of everyday individuals to overcome the ghosts inherited from the country’s communist past. The characters “inhabiting the pages linger in the mind long after the reader has closed the book,” one reviewer said. From teachers to prostitutes, the book contains “such multi-faceted portrayals that I was always surprised the by the uniqueness of each story.”

Granada resident Steven Nightingale, in his nonfiction work bearing the name of his adopted home, excavates the rich past of the Spanish city and of Al-Andalus, finding a story of utopian ecstasy, political and religious intrigue and exaltation, and scorching anguish. Readers lauded "Granada" as a “spectacular showcase” of Nightingale’s talents, and called Nightingale “a rare combination of careful researcher, thorough reporter, gifted storyteller and poet.”

Susan Southard has spent years interviewing hibakusha (“bomb-affected people”) in Japan, and in "Nagasaki," she ushers readers from the morning the atomic bomb was dropped on the city to life in Nagasaki today. In researching the physical, emotional and social challenges of post-atomic life, Southard created “a clear-eyed, honest, impeccably researched and beautifully written book.” It’s a book, one reader said, “that has the potential to change minds and hearts.”

From post-punk Brighton to revolutionary Angola, Jonathan Weisman’s "No. 4 Imperial Lane" travels time and the globe, exploring the effects of colonialism through the eyes of an unexpected American stranger. At the intersection of the damaged lives in a waning aristocracy, Weisman has created a fictional story in a historical world, filled with “details, nuances, facts and feelings that are thoughtful and spot-on,” one reader said.

Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The author of the winning book will receive $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua. For more information, visit

With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is the home of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878, which honors at least nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. Further literary arts programming at Chautauqua includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.

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Jordan Steves
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