April 11, 2018
Mohsin Hamid’s EXIT WEST (Riverhead Books) has won the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize, a new $35,000 award given to “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” The four finalists included fellow Riverhead author Lesley Nneka Arimah for WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY and Viking author Zinzi Clemmons for WHAT WE LOSE.
Riverhead Vice President, Editorial Director Rebecca Saletan
accepted the award on Hamid’s behalf at the awards ceremony on Tuesday night at the Morgan Library in Manhattan. Afterwards, Saletan talked with
NPR’s Linda Holmes about EXIT WEST. You can find out more about the ceremony and watch Mohsin Hamid’s recorded speech here
. Among Hamid’s remarks: "I'm really grateful to be honored by this prize in particular, which is a prize that looks to books to have an impact on the world."
In a conversation with NPR host Michel Martin during the evening, Arimah gave advice to new writers: “Be radically honest with yourself and with everyone else.”
March 7, 2018
The inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize has unveiled its five finalists and three of the authors and their books are published by Penguin Random House imprints. The Aspen Institute established this new annual prize to recognize “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”
Our Aspen Words Literary Prize nominees:
WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY
by Lesley Nneka Arimah
WHAT WE LOSE
by Zinzi Clemmons
by Mohsin Hamid
author Phil Klay, head judge on the five-member awards jury, commented to NPR, "I think we wanted writers who are really able to capture the messiness of reality and human experience in their works — in whichever direction they took. These are the books which we think are most vital for understanding who we are as a people, as a country, as a world right now. And that sounds like a big, broad statement, but I think that's what you're going to find in the best fiction written about social issues right now."
View the complete list of 2018 Aspen Words Literary Prize finalists here
The winner will receive $35,000 and be announced at an awards ceremony at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan on April 10.