By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Brodeur: ‘Tenderness and Tenacity’A slate of 16 novels has been announced today (November 10) in the fifth annual cycle of the still relatively young Aspen Words Literary Prize, directed by author Adrienne Brodeur.
Among the many awards programs in publishing and books, the Aspen Institute’s honor is distinguished for its emphasis on “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”
Works considered for this award include “novels or short-story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, racism or other social issues.”
In addition to its specialization in serious, culturally relevant material, its purse—at US$35,000 for the winner—makes it one of the richest such awards in the American book community.
The jury for the prize—Angie Cruz, Danielle Evans, Ann Friedman, Kiese Laymon and Pádraig Ó Tuama—will read all longlisted books to determine the five finalists and winner.
Brodeur, in making today’s announcement, says, “It’s been thrilling to watch the prize gain in recognition and acclaim each year.
“The 16 novels that comprise this year’s longlist explore questions of freedom and identity, exile and belonging, and are set against the ravages of colonialism, consumerism and classism.
“But what makes these works so powerful is how the stories are told through the multidimensional lens of family —nuclear, relational, parentless, childless—revealing how tenderness and tenacity shape outcome.”
In this year’s longlist, there are three contenders from Simon & Schuster imprints, and two each from WW Norton, Knopf, and HMH Books. And several of these authors have recently been featured in our coverage of other awards programs.
- One of the Knopf authors on the Aspen longlist, Omar El Akkad, has just won Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, which carries a purse of 100,000 Canadian dollars (US$80,055).
- Tahamina Anam, author of The Startup Wife from Scribner has just been announced a juror in the Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Trust Young Writer of the Year Award in London.
- Richard Powers’ Bewilderment will ring a bell for our internationalist readership, that book having been shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction, which was awarded to Damon Galgut for The Promise last week.
The 2022 Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist
As it happens, this year’s Aspen Words longlist titles are especially interesting. From The Startup Wife to Bewilderment and Bewilderness, as well as Things We Lost to the Water, A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself, and The Arsonists’ City, intriguing titles are a feature of this year’s longlist.
|Omar El Akkad
|What Strange Paradise
|Alfred A. Knopf
|The Arsonists’ City
|The Startup Wife
|Myriam JA Chancy
|What Storm, What Thunder
|Peter Ho Davies
|A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself
|Linda Rui Feng
|Swimming Back to Trout River
|Simon & Schuster
|Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
|The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
|Hell of a Book
|Things We Lost to the Water
|Alfred A. Knopf
|Kirstin Valdez Quade
|The Five Wounds
|The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
|Simon & Schuster/37 Ink
This year’s finalists are to be named on February 23 and the winner is to be named on April 21 at the program’s customary awards event at New York City’s Morgan Library.
Aspen Words is a literary center founded under the aegis of the Aspen Institute.
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