Every year, Aspen Words hosts a series of events called Winter Words. These readings and talks feature some of the most prominent writers in contemporary literature. Topics of discussion range from the creative process to the role of literature in today’s world. The 2017 season featured seven inspiring authors. You can enjoy excerpts from some of our best interviews below.
Azar Nafisi knows the importance of literature in a democracy better than most. Nafisi was born in Tehran, Iran in 1948. After being educated abroad, she returned to her home country following the Islamic Revolution. Now living in the US, the self-described Iranian-American reader, writer, and teacher sees literature as key to the survival of democracy. In Nafisi’s eyes, it enables us to connect to one another and build empathy for those whose lives we would not otherwise understand.
Being a writer first requires being a reader. Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker, believes that his ability to write on a range of subjects is grounded in his curiosity. After consuming the literary offerings on a topic, he writes to process and organize his emotions. Gopnik credits Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as the book that has most influenced his work. He remains inspired by Mark Twain’s use of humor to teach a lesson on how adhering to our own set of morals can help us change the world.
Kevin Fedarko and Pete McBride
While sitting around a campfire in the Grand Canyon, author Kevin Fedarko was regaled by the stories of the river guides. One particular tale became the inspiration for his book The Emerald Mile, the journey of a wooden dory and the three guides who set the record for the fastest boat ride in the Grand Canyon’s history. Together, he and photographer Pete McBride attempted to walk the length of the canyon to both visually and orally narrate the beauty of its rugged landscape.
Stephanie Danler, Anna Noyes, and Molly Prentiss
Stephanie Danler, Anna Noyes, and Molly Prentiss began their Aspen journeys as Aspen Words fellows. This winter those journeys came full circle when the women were featured authors in the Winter Words series. Together, they discussed books that had recently made them grapple with complex topics like sexism, racism, and the queer identity. The three women also shared honest advice on coping with rejection and how they keep it from defining them.