Randall Kenan, the novelist and short story writer who died in August, three weeks after the publication his long-awaited collection, If I Had Two Wings, is a finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize, given each year to “an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue.”

The finalists include another short story collection, The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, which Kirkus called “necessary narratives, brilliantly crafted.”

The other finalists, all novels, are Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa, about the experiences of a young Palestinian woman; Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, based on the life of the author’s grandfather.

The prize, which comes with $35,000, is given by Aspen Words, a nonprofit literary organization based in Colorado.

“These books demonstrate the power of fiction to transform the way we see the world around us,” said Adrienne Brodeur, the executive director of Aspen Words. “They deal with serious topics, but among these novels and story collections are also stunning love stories and characters who will make you laugh out loud.”

The prize was first given in 2018. The previous winners are Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced at a virtual ceremony on April 21.

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.