Writers of African descent on US’ Aspen Words Literary Prize 2022 longlist

There are six writers of African descent on the longlists for the Aspen Words Literary Prize 2022 announced on November 10, 2021. They are Omar El Akkad, Myriam J.A. Chancy, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Jason Mott, and Dawnie Walton.

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), and Louise Erdrich (2021). Laila Lalami and Nicole Dennis-Benn have made the shortlist.

The five-member jury for 2021, which changes annually, is comprised of scholars, notable authors and others with literary expertise. This year they are Angie Cruz, Danielle Evans, Ann Friedman, Kiese Laymon, and Pádraig Ó Tuama.

This panel of judges has revealed the longlist for the prize stating;

“The sixteen novels that comprise the 2022 Aspen Words Literary Prize each depict a unique truth about our contemporary world, exploring questions of freedom and identity, liberation and belonging, all set against the ravages of colonialism, consumerism and classism. The novels, eight of whom are debuts, examine the multi-dimensional shape of families—nuclear, relational, parentless, childless—exploring the tenderness and tenacity of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and everything in between.”

From these, the writers of African descent are;

  • What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad, Knopf
  • What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy, Tin House
  • Libertie, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Algonquin Books
  • The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Harper Collins
  • Hell of a Book, Jason Mott, Dutton, Penguin Random House
  • The Final Revival Of Opal & Nev. Dawnie Walton, 37 Ink, Simon and Schuster

The shortlist will be announced on February 23, 2022 before the winner is announced on April 21, 2022. The cash prize for this award is $35,000.