July 20, 2017; Aspen, CO –The Aspen Institute and NPR Books will jointly announce the longlist, finalists, and winner for the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize, a $35,000 annual award for a work of fiction with social impact. The deadline for publishers to nominate 2017 novels and short story collections is August 1, and the longlist will be announced at the end of the year.
Endowed in perpetuity by an anonymous donor, the Aspen Words Literary Prize will be 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. As a premier source for book discovery, reviews, and author profiles, NPR Books is uniquely positioned to help engage audiences around the role of literature in society.
The finalists and winner will be selected by a five-member jury including Stephen Carter, an Aspen Institute trustee, New York Times-bestselling novelist, and law professor at Yale; Jessica Fullerton, a librarian and longtime participant in Aspen Words programs; Phil Klay, Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War and author of the 2014 National Book Award-winning short story collection Redeployment; Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science at Columbia University and author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome; and Akhil Sharma, author of the PEN/Hemingway Award-winning novel An Obedient Father and the 2015 Folio Prize-winning novel Family Life.
"NPR listeners are readers, we know this from our audience research and we know this from the incredible reactions we get to our interviews with authors and book reviews, therefore we are delighted to work with Aspen Words on this literary award," said Ellen Silva, senior supervising editor of NPR's Arts desk. "It is part of NPR's mission to celebrate the human experience by covering the arts and ideas, we are going to have a wonderfully collaborative relationship which is going to be terrific for NPR Books and for NPR listeners."
"NPR's commitment to illuminating the pressing issues of our time through public service journalism makes it the perfect media complement for this prize," said Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur. "Not only is it a trusted source of news, but it is also a champion for great literature that advances the cultural dialogue. We look forward to engaging new audiences around influential fiction through this partnership."
NPR Books helps a busy audience find great reads. The site combines the best of NPR's on-air interviews and news with original reviews, recommendations and lists. It includes popular recurring series such as "You Must Read This," in which well-known authors make one, passionate recommendation; comprehensive non-fiction books coverage which complements NPR's public service mission to cover big ideas in the news; and the end of the year "Books Concierge" which adds to the expanding library of outstanding books coverage at NPR Books. NPR Books is also a leader in genre coverage making sure to give science fiction and fantasy, Young Adult, and graphic novels the smart analysis they deserve. www.NPR.org/books.
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 an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, CO; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.
Caroline Tory, Senior Program Associate
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Isabel Lara, Senior Director, Media Relations