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8 Storytellers to Watch

The 20th Anniversary Winter Words series will feature rising literary stars and distinguished authors including Azar Nafisi, Kevin Fedarko, Pete McBride, Yaa Gyasi, Adam Gopnik, Stephanie Danler, Anna Noyes, and Molly Prentiss.

Presented by Aspen Words December 21, 2016

For 20 years, Aspen Words has brought the best of contemporary literature to Aspen for its Winter Words author series, inviting audiences to cultivate their inner bookworm following a day on the ski slopes. This year, the literary nonprofit and program of the Aspen Institute will host five events showcasing writers from every corner of the literary landscape—from million-copy bestselling memoirist Azar Nafisi, to prolific New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, National Geographic storytellers Kevin Fedarko and Pete McBride, and some of the most talked-about debut novelists of the past year: Yaa Gyasi, Stephanier Danler, Anna Noyes, and Molly Prentiss. Their books, highlighted below, take readers from the banks of the Colorado River, to Manhattan’s 1980’s art scene, to 18th century Ghana, and many unexpected places in-between.

Purchase Tickets + Passes

Azar Nafisi – January 17
The Republic of Imagination

There is perhaps no one more qualified to speak about the transformative power of literature than Azar Nafisi, whose million-copy bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, told the story of a teacher’s mission to share the literary classics with students in revolutionary Iran. Her follow-up book, The Republic of Imagination, is a meditation on the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society.

Kevin Fedarko & Pete McBride – February 7
The Emerald Mile

The Emerald Mile takes readers on the fastest boat ride down the Colorado River, while illuminating the history of the environmental movement to save the Grand Canyon. For much of 2015 and 2016, Fedarko trekked the length of the Grand Canyon’s interior rim alongside National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Pete McBride, documenting the development threats poised to change the Canyon.

Yaa Gyasi in conversation with Chris Jackson – February 28

In her debut novel, 26-year old Yaa Gyasi expertly explores the trans-Atlantic legacy of slavery stretched over eight generations. Homegoing has been compared to Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Alex Haley’s Roots, and was called “an inspiration” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It has been nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and is a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Gyasi will be interviewed at Winter Words by Chris Jackson, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World Books, a just re-launched imprint of Random House.

Adam Gopnik – March 21
The Table Comes First
A legendary New Yorker staff writer since 1986, Gopnik has written on just about every topic under the sun—from gun control, to Darwin, food, and art—while making the most personal stories feel universal. In his latest book, The Table Comes First, Gopnik explores America’s present food culture with his signature wit and vision.

April 4
Stephanie Danler Sweetbitter – April 4
Molly Prentiss  Tuesday Nights in 1980– April 4
Anna Noyes  Goodnight, Beautiful Women – April 4
Three alumni of the Aspen Summer Words writing conference published debut books in 2016 to great critical acclaim; all three focused on the coming-of-age stories of young women. Danler’s Sweetbitter was an instant national bestseller, captivating foodies and literati alike. Prentiss’s Tuesday Nights in 1980 was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s prestigious First Novel Prize, while Noyes’ story collection, Goodnight, Beautiful Women, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice.

Learn more at aspenwords.org.

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