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Aspen Words: 2024 Literary Prize Ceremony

Aspen Words

This event was recorded on April 25, 2024, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.


“In elegant, nuanced prose, Isabella Hammad tells the story of Sonia Nasir, a stage actress living in London who returns to her homeland of Palestine to visit her sister, Haneen, after many years away, and finds herself roped into a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Exploring themes of diaspora, displacement and the search for identity, Hammad constructs a world rich in texture and emotion. A poignant narrative of resilience and the quest for belonging, Enter Ghost is a dazzling story of self-discovery against the backdrop of displacement.”

– 2024 Literary Prize Jury


In addition to Enter Ghost, Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian, which was awarded the Plimpton Prize, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Palestine Book Award and a Betty Trask Award. A National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honoree, her work has been supported by the Lannan Foundation and Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination.


The Aspen Words Literary Prize is a $35,000 annual award for an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.

Annually, 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. Past winners include Mohsin Hamid (2018 for “Exit West”), Tayari Jones (2019 for “An American Marriage”), Christy Lefteri (2020 for “The Beekeeper of Aleppo”), Louise Erdrich (2021 for “The Night Watchman”), Dawnie Walton (2022 for “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev”) and Jamil Jan Kochai (2023 for “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak”). Eligible works include novels or short story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, race or other social issues.

About the Aspen Institute:

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.