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'The Butler' author Wil Haygood wins prestigious book award

DAYTON, Ohio — Writer Wil Haygood, author of multiple nonfiction books chronicling the lives of 20th-century Black Americans including The Butler, has won a prestigious book award.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced Wednesday that Haygood — himself originally from Columbus, Ohio — will receive the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

"For three decades, Haygood has captured the sweep of American culture, focusing on the rarely or never-told stories of the Black experience with the analysis that this nation so desperately needs," said Sharon Rab, founder and chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation.

Haywood's book The Butler is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents at the White House. It was adapted into a 2013 film starring Forest Whitaker.

His other works include Showdown, about the nomination battle that Thurgood Marshall faced before becoming the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice, and Colorization, a century-long look at the lives of Black actors, writers and directors in Hollywood.

The literary prize was inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, and celebrates the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and understanding.

Haygood will receive the award on Nov. 13 from Dayton native Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, journalist and Chicago Tribune editorial board member.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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