Aspen Words Literary Prize

The Aspen Words Literary Prize 2023 longlist was announced on December 12, 2022. Here are the writers of African descent on the list.

The Aspen Words Literary Prize is an annual award for an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture. Eligible works include novels or short story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, race, or other social issues. Past winners include Mohsin Hamid (2018), Tayari Jones (2019), Christy Lefteri (2020), Erdrich (2021), and Dawnie Walton (2022).  Laila Lalami and Nicole Dennis-Benn have made the shortlist.

The nominated works for 2022 were read and then whittled down by poet and writer John Manuel Arias, writer Lee M. Harrington, and writer and educator Onyinye Ihezukwu. The longlist they came up with features the following writers of African descent;

  • Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo
  • If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery
  • The Last Suspicious Holdout, Ladee Hubbard
  • Harry Sylvester Bird, Chinelo Okparanta
  • Memphis, Tara M. Stringfellow

Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur said, “The AWLP celebrates exceptional works of fiction that expand perspectives and build compassion around critical human, social and global concerns.”

NoViolet Bulawayo responded to the longlist saying, “tholukuthi so very humbled to be on this most incredible list, what an honor. thank you to Aspen Words and the judges, and congratulations to all the authors.”

Jonathan Escoffery said, “I was an Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow back in 2019, and have so much love for the organization. So showing up on this list feels beautifully full circle.”

Ladee Hubbard said, “Awesome to be in such great company!”

Chinelo Okparanta said. “I’m so honored to be on the list with these amazing authors and their books (I’ve read about half of them prior to today, so I know it’s truly a great list of books. I am looking forward to reading the rest)!”

The jury for 2023 comprises author Rumaan Alam, lawyer Chris Bryan, author and journalist Omar El Akkad, Professor of English and American Studies at Vanderbilt University Teresa Goddu, and Dawnie Walton who won the prize last year. They will determine the shortlist and the winner who goes home with the $35,000 cash prize.