Aspen Words Longlist, Asian American Letters, and More


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.

Aspen Words has announced the longlist for its third annual Aspen Words Literary Prize. The list includes both debuts and works by established authors, including Bryan Washington’s Lot and Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone. Five finalists will be selected from the current list of sixteen in February next year, and the winner will be announced in April. The $35,000 prize honors a work of fiction that “illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” 

Marie Myung-Ok Lee notes several recent books by Asian American authors that are all written in epistolary form: Ali Wong’s Dear Girls, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, among others. She wonders whether there is meaning behind this trend or if it is merely “a cluster of coincidence.” (Millions)

Montreal author Heather O’Neill has received the fifth annual Writers’ Trust Fellowship. The $50,000 award is awarded by an anonymous panel of Canadian literature experts, who described O’Neill’s work as magic: “Her narratives are the closest modern Canadian fiction comes to books of spells.” (Toronto Star)

“One definition of the great artist might be the creator who projects the biggest dream in terms of the least person.” The New York Times digs into its archive and revisits Langston Hughes’s 1958 review of James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son.

Leslie Jamison interviews Mary Gaitskill about her new book, This Is Pleasure, and its relationship to the #MeToo movement. Gaitskill explains she set out to write a “private story” that engaged with the concerns of #MeToo. “The thing about the bigger story . . . is that you see the currents, but you often don’t see people really feeling it.” (Guardian)

Weike Wang discusses her story in this week’s New Yorker, “The Trip,” and the nuances of experiencing culture clash while traveling.

Aaron Smith talks to the Rumpus about his early influences, representing queer realities, and writing into discomfort

In an interview at BOMB, French writer Anne Serre describes reaching towards a “certain sound” while writing. “It’s what I would call the sound of my life.”