Louise Erdrich Wins Aspen Words Literary Prize, International Booker Prize Shortlist, 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.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich has been selected as the winner of this year’s Aspen Words Literary Prize, which honors a book that “illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.” Erdrich receives a prize of $35,000. (NPR)

The shortlist has been revealed for the 2021 International Booker Prize, which honors “the finest fiction from around the world, translated into English.” The six finalists represent work translated from four languages: French, Spanish, Danish, and Russian. The winning title will be announced in a virtual ceremony on June 2, and the winning author and translator will split the £50,000 prize.

At the New York Times, Eve L. Ewing and Evan Narcisse reflect on writing Black superheroes for Marvel. “How do we imagine ourselves into being? With every new Black superhero that audiences encounter, they can see that the answers are as varied as we are,” writes Narcisse.

Quill & Quire reports on how Canadians are gearing up to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) tomorrow. In Knowlton, Québec, six local authors will each take a shift writing in the window at Brome Lake Books. Earlier this month, the American Booksellers Association highlighted plans at U.S. bookstores, in addition to sharing marketing tips for booksellers. And the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses put together a map of bookstores “that do an especially good job carrying and supporting the work of independent literary publishers.”

“I worry that the way we talk about reading now has taken a turn for the sentimental: It’s reading as lifestyle signifier or personality indicator, reading as a fetishy idea.” Chelsea Leu tries out a reading program offered by self-help guru Ryan Holiday and chafes at his attempts to “optimize” literature. (Electric Literature)

“I knew I wanted to publish Lady Joker as soon as I heard about it.” Juliet Grames of Soho Press talks to the Los Angeles Times about the unique challenges of acquiring and translating Lady Joker by Kaoru Takamura.

Evie Wyld has won the 2021 Stella Prize for her latest novel, The Bass Rock. The annual prize includes a purse of $50,000 and is open to both fiction and nonfiction books by Australian women and nonbinary writers.

“I think I’m calmer about throwing things away now. I also realize that those dead ends are part of the process.” Avni Doshi, the author of Burnt Sugar, shares lessons from her literary life. (Margins)