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Dawnie Walton’s The Final Revival of Opal & Nev has won the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

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April 22, 2022, 10:09am

Last night, Dawnie Walton was named the winner of the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize, established by the Aspen Institute to honor a work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture. Walton won for her novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, which tells the story of the meteoric rise, sensational breakup, and fraught reunion of an 1970s interracial rock duo.

The award’s judges said of the novel, “As innovative in form as it is soulful in delivery, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a dazzling exploration of the spectacular and eerie complications of the way race, gender and punk rock necessarily collide. What can these collisions produce? The book is a tutorial in the possibilities and terrifying limitations of an interracial duo who seem to move in two very different directions upon their breakup. Dawnie Walton blurs the lines between revelation and realization in a book that witnesses, and really undulates under, the weight of professional and personal secrets, while picking away at the very real desire for American progress with few substantial models for reciprocal American reckoning.”

Accepting the award, Walton said that “what gives me joy and hope is that as artists we find and foster community. We encourage each other to use our full throat.”

The award’s other finalists were Myriam J. A. Chancy, Omar El Akkad, Kirstin Valdez Quade, and Hala Alyan.

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