Aspen Words Literary Prize Longlist, Souvankham Thammavongsa Wins Scotiabank Giller Prize, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

Fifteen books have been longlisted for this year’s Aspen Words Literary Prize, which offers $35,000 to a work of fiction that “illuminates a vital contemporary issue.” Five finalists will be announced in February, and the winner will be honored at a virtual ceremony in April.

Souvankham Thammavongsa has won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife. The $100,000 CAD prize honors “the best Canadian novel, short story collection, or graphic novel published in English” during the previous year.

“I didn’t think it could happen to me. I lost both my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law to COVID-19 within six weeks.” Zibby Owens shares fifteen books that have helped her process the recent loss of two family members. (Washington Post)

Penguin Random House plans to establish a new Spanish-language division, Penguin Random House Español, in the new year. The division will combine the teams and resources of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial USA and Vintage Español. (Publishers Lunch)

The fifteenth annual National Black Writers Conference is running online from November 11 to 14. Black Enterprise interviews organizer April Silver about the vision behind this year’s gathering. 

“Only when I sing as a poet, I’m able to leave my human body, leave myself and approach that ultimate other, who for me are my dead, my ancestors.” Valzhyna Mort on speaking to her ancestors in her latest collection, Music for the Dead and Resurrected. (NPR)

“As to the form of the lyric essay, I didn’t know at first what I was doing. I was just trying to represent the inside of the feeling.” Sejal Shah discusses probing questions of identity, place, and time in her debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance. (Guernica)

Jane Hu shares micro-reviews of four new story collections, including two works in translation. (New York Times)