Aspen Institute Announces the 2024 Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist

November 8, 2023

Fourteen works of fiction in the running for the 7th annual $35,000 award.

Aspen, CO (November 8, 2023) – Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute, today announced the longlist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize (AWLP), which is a $35,000 annual award for a work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue.

The 2024 works are as follows:

  • Chain-Gang All-Stars, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Pantheon – Random House)
  • Temple Folk, Aaliyah Bilal (Simon & Schuster)
  • Witness, Jamel Brinkley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – Macmillan)
  • The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, Stephen Buoro (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Enter Ghost, Isabella Hammad (Grove Press – Grove Atlantic)
  • The Laughter, Sonora Jha (HarperVia – Harper Collins)
  • What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, Claire Jiménez (Grand Central Publishing – Hachette)
  • Yellowface, F. Kuang (William Morrow – Harper Collins)
  • I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai (Viking Press – Penguin Random House)
  • The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride (Riverhead Books – Penguin Random House)
  • When Trying to Return Home: Stories, Jennifer Maritza McCauley (Counterpoint Press – Penguin Random House)
  • The People Who Report More Stress: Stories, Alejandro Varela (Astra House)
  • Let Us Descend, Jesmyn Ward (Scribner – Simon & Schuster)
  • Land of Milk and Honey, C Pam Zhang (Riverhead Books – Penguin Random House)

“It’s always an honor to announce the Aspen Words Literary Prize longlist. These dynamic works of fiction tackle subjects including racism, religion, capitalism, antisemitism, the United States judicial system, and others, and in doing so, exemplify our mission to connect people through stories,” said Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur. “It is our hope that you will find them engaging, illuminating, and provocative, and that they will spark dialogue in your communities.”

The 14 titles include four story collections and 10 novels. Four of the works are by debut authors (Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal; What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jiménez; The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa by Stephen Buoro; and When Trying to Return Home: Stories by Jennifer Maritza McCauley).

The jury for the prize – Lan Samantha Chang, Christina Baker Kline, Anthony Marra, Chinelo Okparanta, and Simran Jeet Singh will read all longlisted books to determine the five finalists and winner.

The finalists will be announced on March 13, 2024, and the winner will be revealed at an awards celebration, which is free and open to the public, at the Morgan Library in New York City on April 25, 2024.

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The $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. 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. The inaugural award was presented to Mohsin Hamid in 2018 for Exit West, his novel about migration and refugees. Tayari Jones won the 2019 prize for An American Marriage, her novel about racism and unjust incarceration; Christy Lefteri received the 2020 prize for her novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo, about Syrian refugees; Louise Erdrich won the 2021 award for The Night Watchman, about Native American dispossession; Dawnie Walton won the 2022 award for The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, which explores identity, place and the influence of pop culture; and Jamil Jan Kochai won the 2023 prize for The Haunting of Hajji Hotak, a powerful story collection about Afghans, Afghan Americans and the surreal, violent aftershocks of state violence. Eligible works include novels or short story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, racism or other social issues.


Aspen Words was founded in 1976 as a literary center based in Aspen, CO. A program of the Aspen Institute, its mission is to encourage writers, inspire readers and connect people through the power of stories. For more information, visit


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



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Mallory Kaufman, Program Associate
Aspen Words | The Aspen Institute
Phone: 970-925-3122 ext. 2


Katherine Roberts
Carington Creative

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