16 books make Aspen Words Literary Prize long list
Aspen Words announced the long list for the Aspen Words Literary Prize on Thursday. The titles include 12 novels and four short-story collections to be considered for the literary nonprofit’s $35,000 annual award for a work of fiction that addresses a vital contemporary issue.
The finalists are: “Opioid, Indiana” by Brian Allen Carr; “Your House Will Pay” by Steph Cha; “Dominicana” by Angie Cruz; “Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn; “Sabrina & Corina: Stories” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine; “The Other Americans” by Laila Lalami; “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri; “Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli; “The Beadworkers: Stories” by Beth Piatote; “The Affairs of the Falcóns” by Melissa Rivero; “We Cast a Shadow” by Maurice Carlos Ruffin; “The World Doesn’t Require You: Stories” by Rion Amilcar Scott; “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong; “Lot: Stories” by Bryan Washington; “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead and “Red at the Bone” by Jacqueline Woodson.
Six of the selections are by debut authors.
The five finalists and winner will be selected by a five-member jury that includes writers Alexander Chee, Saeed Jones and Esmeralda Santiago along with the Aspen Institute’s Amy Garmer and Aspenite Helen Obermeyer.
“Fiction can help bridge divides across political, racial and socioeconomic lines,” Aspen Words executive director Adrienne Brodeur said in the announcement. “This year’s long list includes titles that grapple with many of our biggest contemporary challenges — racial injustice, family separation and immigration, opioid addiction. But they also are stories of triumph and hope — a reckoning with colonial history, a reclamation of the American Dream, a reflection of human resiliency and a celebration of so many voices left out of conventional literature.”
Open to authors of any nationality, the award is one of the largest literary prizes in the United States, and one of the few focused exclusively on fiction with a social impact. The inaugural award was presented to Mohsin Hamid in 2018 for “Exit West,” his novel about migration and refugees. Tayari Jones won the 2019 prize for “An American Marriage,” her novel about racism and unjust incarceration.
The finalists will be announced Feb. 19, and the winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at The Morgan Library in New York City on April 16. In late spring, Aspen Words, in partnership with Pitkin County Library, will launch a Community Read program and distribute free copies of the prize-winning book. The program will include a community-wide book club gathering, panel discussions and other activities.
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