The longlist for the annual Aspen Words Literary Prize has been revealed, with books by Louise Erdrich, Rumaan Alam, Brit Bennett, Danielle Evans, and Bryan Washington among those making the cut.
The 15-book longlist, first unveiled at NPR, is made up of 13 novels and two short story collections. All the books are vying for the $35,000 award, which is given each year to “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”
Two Kirkus Prize finalists made the longlist: Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday and Juliana Delgado Lopera’s Fiebre Tropical. And Alam’s Leave the World Behind was one of two National Book Award finalists to be nominated for the Aspen prize, along with Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible.
Past winners of the Aspen prize include Mohsin Hamid for Exit West, Tayari Jones for An American Marriage, and Christy Lefteri for The Beekeeper of Aleppo. The winner of this year’s award will be announced in April 2021.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.