Aspen Institute to Name Winner of $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize in Virtual Celebration on April 16

March 30, 2020

Daylong celebration will include video interviews with five finalist authors

Contact: Elizabeth Nix
Senior Program Associate | Aspen Words
970-925-3122 ext. 4 | [email protected]

Aspen, CO, March 30, 2020 – On April 16, Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute, will host a virtual winner announcement and celebration of the Aspen Words Literary Prize (AWLP), a $35,000 annual award for a work of fiction that illuminates vital contemporary issues. The celebration will include video content premiering across Aspen Words’ and the Aspen Institute’s social platforms and websites.

Some of the Aspen Words Literary Prize judges, including Esmeralda Santiago and Alexander Chee, will interview the finalist authors about their books and writing careers, and Aspen Institute President Dan Porterfield and Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur will discuss the role of literature during this time of global pandemic. The celebration will culminate with the naming of the prize winner at 4pm MT/6pm ET.

In the weeks leading up to the announcement, Aspen Words has partnered with the bookstagram account @fictionmatters to launch a reading challenge centered around the finalist titles. Aspen Words also will encourage readers to participate in the celebration on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #AspenLitPrize.

Four novels and one short story collection—which address some of the most urgent social issues in America and the world today, such as drug addiction, homophobia, immigration and income inequality–are in the running for the 2020 award, to be presented in collaboration with media partner NPR Books:

Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr (Soho Press)
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright)
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (Ballantine Books)
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Knopf)
Lot by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books)

This is the third year the Aspen Words Literary Prize will be conferred. For its first two years, the prize was awarded live at a ceremony at The Morgan Library in New York City. Mohsin Hamid received the inaugural award in April 2018 for Exit West, his novel about migration and refugees. Tayari Jones received the 2019 award for An American Marriage, her novel about wrongful incarceration. Aspen Words decided to take the 2020 winner announcement online due to safety concerns about COVID-19.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to reimagine what a literary prize awards ceremony can look like and how we can engage with a wider audience,” said Aspen Words’ Brodeur. “We believe even though everyone is social distancing, it’s still possible to have a collective moment of connection and celebration through great literature. Our team looks forward to sparking thought-provoking conversations about the finalist books.”

For more information, visit aspenwords.org. Organizers encourage readers to support authors, publishers and booksellers during this challenging time by ordering shortlisted titles from bookstores online.

Schedule for April 16 Aspen Words Literary Prize Virtual Winner Announcement

  • 7:30am-2pm MT: Video interviews with AWLP finalists Brian Allen Carr, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Christy Lefteri, Valeria Luiselli and Bryan Washington
  • 2pm MT: Video conversation with Aspen Institute President Dan Porterfield and Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur about the importance of literature during the global pandemic
  • 4-4:30pm MT: Winner announcement and acceptance speech 

How to access prize-related content:
Website: aspenwords.org/programs/literary-prize
Social media: Facebook.com/aspenwords | Twitter.com/aspenwords | Instagram.com/aspenwords/
#AspenLitPrize

About the Aspen Words Literary Prize
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 April 2018 for Exit West, his novel about migration and refugees. Tayari Jones received the 2019 award for An American Marriage, her novel about wrongful incarceration. Eligible works include novels or short story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, race or other social issues.

More information about the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the finalists is available at: http://www.aspenwords.org/programs/literary-prize/finalists

Download book jackets and author headshots:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hqt1acyw4ohtb51/AACbWhfgQ1dlzw-hzjiJ4XCpa?dl=0

Aspen Words Literary Prize logo:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jsk0svn4z6vh8nu/AW%20LP%20and%20AI%20logos%20stacked%20HIRES.jpg?dl=0

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 www.aspenwords.org/. 

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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