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Bound for glory: Aspen Words announces longlist for annual literary prize

Aspen Words Literary Prize Logo
Courtesy of Aspen Words
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The longlist for the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize puts 14 authors in the running for a $35,000 award that honors “a work of fiction that highlights a vital contemporary issue.” This year’s longlist features novels and story collections that explore race, identity, climate and other themes.

The longlist for the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize puts 14 authors in the running for a $35,000 award that honors “a work of fiction that highlights a vital contemporary issue.”

This year's longlist includes seven fiction debuts and five short-story collections. Works range from satires such as Chinelo Okaparanta’s “Harry Silvester Bird” to coming-of-age novels including Fatimah Asghar’s “When We Were Sisters” to short-story collections such as Ladee Hubbard’s "The Last Suspicious Holdout.”

The works explore race, identity, climate and other themes. There are seven authors making their fiction debuts in the mix as well as one past winner. Mohsin Hamid, who won the prize in 2018 for “Exit West,” is a contender this year for “The Last White Man.”

“The AWLP celebrates exceptional works of fiction that expand perspectives and build compassion around critical human, social and global concerns,” Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur said in a news release. "The powerful books on this longlist tell stories that are set against or address directly the climate crisis, racism, xenophobia and mental health, among others and feature a range of dynamic voices, including debut as well as established authors.”

A five-person jury will read all the books and determine the five finalists. Aspen Words will name the finalists March 6 and announce the winner at an awards celebration at the Morgan Library in New York City on April 19.

This is the sixth year that Aspen Words has awarded the prize, which is open to authors of any nationality.

Aspen Words Longlist Book Covers
The Aspen Works Literary Prize honors works of fiction with a social impact. The 2023 longlist includes several authors making their fiction debuts as well as one past winner of the prize.

2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist 

  • “When We Were Sisters” by Fatima Asghar
  • “Glory” by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • “How Not To Drown in a Glass of Water” by Angie Cruz 
  • “If I Survive You” by Jonathan Escoffery 
  • “The Last White Man” by Mohsin Hamid
  • “Calling For a Blanket Dance” by Oscar Hokeah 
  • “The Last Suspicious Holdout” by Ladee Hubbard
  • “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories” by Jamil Jan Kochai 
  • “What We Fed to the Manticore” by Talia Laskhmi Kolluri
  • “The Consequences” by Manuel Muñoz
  • “Harry Sylvester Bird” by Chinelo Okparanta
  • “Memphis” by Tara Stringfellow
  • “All This Could be Different” by Sarah Thankam Mathews 
  • “The Town of Babylon” by Alejandro Varela
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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.