‘Using Life’ Among Finalists of First-ever Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards

Last Friday, the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth announced their first-ever “tales of a fantastic future” Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards:

On the list was Using Life, written by Ahmed Naji and with art by Ayman Al Zorkany, tr. Ben Koerber. The list, according to organizers, celebrates books “that imagine futures far and near, nudged or driven by science but still bound by the human experience[.]”

There are 11 finalists, and they run the gamut from novels to young adult work to collections of stories to Naji and Al Zorkany’s graphic-novel hybrid, an excerpt of which earned Naji a stint in jail.

“These books run the gamut in form, context, and outlook. We see irony, adventure, humor, and loss,” Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute, said in a prepared statement. “Whether describing a cloned space crew, the future of sexual relations, or everyday life in a changed environment, the Neukom shortlist is filled with essential reads that address the complexities that the future may bring.”

The shortlist was put together by Rockmore and Dartmouth colleagues Alexander Chee and Tarek El-Ariss. The judging is spearheaded by New York Times-bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley, and prize winners are set to be announced in May.

The full shortlist:

“After Atlas” by Emma Newman (Roc, 2016)
“Best Worst American” by Juan Martinez (Small Beer Press, 2017)
“Central Station” by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications, 2016)
“Children of the New World” by Alexander Weinstein (Picador, 2016)
“Made for Love” by Alissa Nutting (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2017)
“New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2017)
“On the Edge of Gone” by Corrine Duyvis (Amulet/Abrams, 2016)
“Six Wakes” by Mur Lafferty (Orbit, 2017)
“Telling the Map” by Christopher Rowe (Small Beer Press, 2017)
“Using Life” by Ahmed Naji, ill. Ayman Al Zorkany, tr. Ben Koerber (UT Press, 2017)
“Void Star” by Zachary Mason (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)

There will be two awards: one for a debut work, and the other for an established author in the genre of speculative fiction. Each award winner will receive $5,000.