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    Jamil Jan Kochai’s The Haunting of Hajji Hotak has won the 2023 Aspen Prize.

    Janet Manley

    April 20, 2023, 9:38am

    Last night, the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize was awarded to Jamil Jan Kochai for his collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, following a suite of Afghani characters between modern-day Afghanistan and contemporary America as they grapple with guilt and displacement, and filter their parents’ experiences of war.

    The collection was previously named a finalist for the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction and one of the New Yorker’s Best Books of 2022. The 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize jury praised the collection thusly:

    Kochai manages both an indictment and de-centering of the West’s decades-long campaign of violence through which countless Afghans have suffered. There is no clean-cut prescriptivism here: these stories of lives lost and regained in the shadow of the war on terror years are as impossible to categorize as they are wondrous to read.

    Kochai calls Logar, Afghanistan his cultural home, but was born in an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan and is currently a Hodder fellow at Princeton University. He is also the author of 99 Nights in Logar, a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

    Jamil Jan Kochai, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories; cover design by Zak Tebbal (Viking, July 19)

    You can watch a stream of the event here.

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