The $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize Names Its 2023 Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The Aspen Words Literary Prize 2023 longlist includes seven fiction debuts and five short-story collections.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Brodeur: ‘Critical Human, Social, and Global Concerns’
A standout for its unabashed commitment to socially meaningful fiction, the US$35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize is awarded annually to “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”

Its 2023 longlist, announced today (December 12) includes seven fiction debuts and five short-story collections.

Our readership will immediately notice that the Pakistani British author Mohsin Hamid is on the longlist. Hamid gave the keynote address at Frankfurter Buchmesse on October 18, then went on to join Publishing Perspectives in an hour-long conversation onstage at Frankfurt Pavilion. As it happens, Hamid was also the first winner of the Aspen honor, taking the prize in 2018 for Exit West. His newest book, The Last White Man, was published on August 2 by Penguin/Riverhead Books in the States and on August 11 by Penguin Random House UK/Hamish Hamilton in the United Kingdom.

The longlist will be juried by Rumann Alam, a 2021 Aspen finalist; Chris Bryan; Omar El Akkad, a 2022 AWLP finalist; Teresa Goddu; and Dawnie Walton, who won this year’s Aspen Words Literary Prize.

Aspen Words executive director, the author Adrienne Brodeur, in a prepared statement on today’s announcement, is quoted, saying that the award “celebrates exceptional works of fiction that expand perspectives and build compassion around critical human, social and global concerns.

“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.”

The 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist
Author Title Publisher, Imprint
Fatima Asghar When We Were Sisters Penguin Random House / One World
NoViolet Bulawayo Glory Penguin Random House / Viking
Angie Cruz How Not To Drown in a Glass of Water: A Novel Macmillan / Flatiron Books
Jonathan Escoffery If I Survive You Macmillan / FSG / MCD
Mohsin Hamid The Last White Man Penguin Random House / Riverhead
Oscar Hokeah Calling for a Blanket Dance Workman / Algonquin
Ladee Hubbard The Last Suspicious Holdout HarperCollins / Amistad
Jamil Jan Kochai The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories Penguin Random House / Viking
Talia Lakshmi Kolluri What We Fed to the Manticore Tin House
Manuel Muñoz The Consequences Graywolf Press
Chinelo Okparanta Harry Sylvester Bird HarperCollins / Mariner Books
Tara Stringfellow Memphis Penguin Random House / Dial Press
Sarah Thankam Mathews All This Could Be Different: A Novel Penguin Random House / Viking
Alejandro Varela The Town of Babylon: A Novel Astra Publishing Week

The 2023 shortlist is to be announced on March 6. The winner is to be named on April 19, again in an event at New York City’s Morgan Library.

Aspen Words is a literary center founded under the aegis of the Aspen Institute.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 209th awards-related report in the 223 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from us on the Aspen Words Literary Prize is here, more on the American book business is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on international book and publishing awards programs is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.