Announcing the Finalists for the Aspen Words Literary Prize

Aspen Words, a program of the Aspen Institute, today announced the shortlist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize (AWLP), a $35,000 annual award for a work of fiction that illuminates vital contemporary issues.

The 2019 shortlist:

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Brother by David Chariandy (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Gun Love by Jennifer Clement (Hogarth)
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books)
There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)

The shortlist, announced in collaboration with media partner NPR Books, includes four novels and one short story collection. Two of the finalists, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and Tommy Orange, are debut authors, while David Chariandy, Jennifer Clement and Tayari Jones have all published previous books to critical acclaim. The finalists were selected by a five-member jury including Dorothy Allison, Suzanne Bober, Farah Griffin, Elliot Gerson and Samrat Upadhyay, who was a finalist for the prize last year.

The shortlisted titles address some of the most urgent social issues in America and the world today, such as racial inequality, class disparities and gun violence. “These books tackle societal problems with humor and large doses of compassion,” said head judge Upadhyay. “Most important, they are all beautifully written books filled with compelling characters, striking imagery and attention to detail that made them such a pleasure to read.”

The $35,000 winner will be announced live at an awards ceremony in New York City at The Morgan Library on Thursday, April 11. The finalists will participate in a conversation moderated by Renee Montagne, special host and correspondent for NPR News. Tickets are available at

Jury Citations

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Pulsing with a beauty that is bold and unrelenting, Friday Black is an uncompromising look at the ailments of our time. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah delivers punches in story after story that awaken us to our absurd realities: brutal racism, murderous consumerism, copycat school shootings. “Friday Black” is filled with humor and a fierce intelligence. It also proves, once and for all, that the form of the short story is perfectly capable of taking on our political urgencies.

Brother by David Chariandy

Brother is as heart-wrenching as it is beautiful. This is a story of love and compassion between and for characters relegated to the margins because of their class, their color, their immigrant status. These characters are full of longing and disappointment: parents who want more for their children, and children who seek to create themselves, art and a better world.  They do so in a context that constantly tries, and all too often succeeds, in destroying them.  And yet, driven by love, they insist on their humanity.

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

In Gun Love, Jennifer Clement gives us 14-year-old Pearl, who has grown up on the front seat of a ‘94 Mercury next to a trailer park in central Florida—a place she knows is nowhere. Here is delicious lyrical language, sudden violence and compelling characters who might save you and then again might not. And yes, guns—guns in the hands of people for whom “life is always like shoes on the wrong feet.” This is a scary, heartrending story, stinking of cordite and mildew—like a tantalizing phone call from the underclass.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage is a gripping novel about the dissolution of a marriage. But beneath the surface of this deeply moving love story is a powerful statement about unjust incarceration and a corrupt criminal justice system that has ravaged generations of African-American families. Writing with poignancy and humor, Jones offers a much-needed meditation on issues of race, class, identity—and shows us how to move forward after a great loss.

There There by Tommy Orange

In this heartrending debut by Tommy Orange, a member of the Cherokee and Arapaho tribes, we journey with an extraordinary cast of “urban Indians” to a huge powwow in Oakland, California. From a daring opening essay to a harrowing finale, the novel is an explosion of poetry and violence, hope and despair. Questions of identity and authenticity, loss and discovery, tradition and escape are woven brilliantly together in this tour de force about the continuing shame of America’s treatment of its Native people.


About the Aspen Words Literary Prize
The $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize is awarded annually to an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture. Open to authors of any nationality, the award is one of the largest literary prizes in the United States, and one of the few focused exclusively on fiction with a social impact. The inaugural award was presented to Mohsin Hamid in April 2018 for Exit West, his novel about migration and refugees. Eligible works include novels or short story collections that address questions of violence, inequality, gender, the environment, immigration, religion, race or other social issues.


The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, CO; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.


Speak or Swim: IN OTHER WORDS and the Trials of Learning a Language

In U.S. schools, foreign language is not taught or required until children are 12–14 years old. There are immersion programs and extracurricular language classes, but those are optional. For the most part American students do not study foreign language until the critical time for language development has passed. As a result, many American adults only speak English. Anyone who has tried to learn a new language as an adult knows that it takes serious determination. In Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words, Lahiri shares her experience in learning Italian as an adult.

Reading In Other Words, I found myself overcome with two feelings. One: guilt for not knowing another language fluently. Two: familiarity at Lahiri’s frustrations and triumphs in learning a new language. In theory, I should be fluent in Spanish. I am not. My Spanish is babyish, naming random objects and answering simple questions.

When I attempt to speak Spanish, I feel like I am drowning. I revert to one-word sentences, or answer in English. Even when speaking Spanish with my own grandmother, I cannot reach the bottom of the lake for safety.

Spanish should be one of my mother tongues, alongside English. The same way my father spoke as a child. I could study and practice and work hard to become fluent, but Spanish will never belong to me the way it belongs to my father or grandmother. My father stopped speaking Spanish as a child and only returned to it as an adult out of necessity. Spanish was not spoken in my home until I could read and write, my learning window already passed. I never understood why my father never taught my brothers and I Spanish. Then, he told me that speaking Spanish was punished when he was in school. Children of immigrants, like Lahiri, experience shame for being other, their mother tongue ostracized rather than celebrated.

In Other Words is printed in Italian and English, side by side. Lahiri originally wrote it in Italian while living in Rome. She kept journals written in Italian, scribbling new vocabulary words on every page, and struggling with verb conjugation. Then, eventually, describing the surprise from others that she speaks Italian and speaks it well. I have the opposite reaction in my life. Shock, confusion, and even anger at the fact that I, a brown-haired, brown-eyed, olive-skinned person in Texas, cannot speak Spanish. I’ve stumbled through awkward customer interactions at various jobs, feeling insufficient.

On a trip to Mexico City in 2016, I felt more uncomfortable attempting my babyish Spanish with cousins and their friends than I did speaking absolutely horrific Cantonese in Hong Kong. Perhaps it was the lack of expectation I had for myself in Hong Kong. I’d never studied the language before and could only re


“The Cassandra” Is a Novel about Toxic Masculinity and Cursed Women

Sharma Shields’ novel is a call for us all to truly think about who we are — and who we are becoming.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

Summoning references to classic Greek myth, The Cassandra, set in the 1940s, focuses on the life of Mildred Groves, a young, unusual woman who sees visions of the future. When an opportunity for employment at the secretive Hanford research center presents itself, Mildred leaves home and enters a totally new world — one she sees as a hopeful land of possibilities. But there’s much more than possibility lurking in the dark corners at Hanford.

Dissecting humanity’s cravings for power and our fascination with destruction, Sharma Shields’ The Cassandra is a call for us all to truly think about who we are — and who we are becoming.

Bradley Sides: In your latest novel, The Cassandra, you mix magical realism with myth. You present a young woman named Mildred Groves, who very much reflects Cassandra from mythology. Mildred, like Cassandra, sees horribly bleak visions of the future that no one believes. What was the genesis of your novel?

Purchase the novel

Sharma Shields: The setting of Hanford came first, before I considered Mildred or Cassandra. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis five years ago, a couple of people mentioned the high incidence of MS in the Inland Northwest, where I grew up and live now, and someone said to me, “It’s because we’re downwind of Hanford.”

I’d been thinking of writing a gloomy Northwest version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and it occurred to me after I heard this that Hanford was the perfect setting.

Early on in my research about Hanford, I was surprised to read that virtually no one working there in 1944 had any idea what they were manufacturing. There was even a rumor floating around that they were producing toilet paper for the troops overseas. When I took a tour of Reactor B in the summer of 2015, I marveled at the irony of the vintage signage everywhere, “Loose lips sink ships,” “Safety first,” etc. Secrecy and safety were the paramount messages, but of course this is a place that contributed to more than 100,000 deaths in Nagasaki; a place that has poisoned our local environment and caused numerous thyroid cancers, birth defects, and polluted crops and water. The irony there is remarkable.

As I mused on all of this violent secrecy, I thought of Cassandra and the Trojan war, “the shambles for men’s butchery, the dripping floor.” And from Cassandra sprang Mildred Groves, who hails from Omak, a small town near where my mom grew up (Okanogan) in arid central Washington State.

BS: From the start, Mildred is such a complicated character. She’s driven. She’s strong. She’s loyal. I was rooting for her all the way, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I also found her to be frustrating, especially after she gets settled in at Hanford. What do you hope readers take away from her after reading her story?

SS: Mildred is frustrating, probably in a lot of the same ways I frustrate myself. She’s eager to please (to a fault), she’s naïve, she internalizes the behavior of others, she’s willing to put herself down to make someone feel better. The way she accepts and makes excuses for the verbal battery of her mother and sister is alarming.

Mildred does what a lot of us do, suppresses herself until that negative energy bursts out of her, and the wrong people get hurt. She does awful, incalculable harm. It parallels the harm our country has done to others; the harm humanity does to itself. By the end of the book, she is utterly changed, physically, mentally. I hope readers find something relatable in her struggle and in her complicity and fallibility and regrets, but also in her power and her attempt to enact change. I wanted her to be both: powerless, powerful, like we all are. I’m hoping Mildred expresses a sharp warning about how we treat ourselves and treat others on both an individual and global scale.

Selfless Girls Will Win Us the War

BS: Men certainly aren’t the only ones who mistreat Mildred (her mother who continually calls her a “ferret face” has to be mentioned), but they are the most consistent in doing so. They are truly awful to her — even from the first chapter when she has her interview at Hanford. They harass, abuse, and devalue her. Nevertheless, she persists. The Cassandra feels timely.

SS: Both women and men in this novel are capable of cruelties large and small. Many of the characters turn violent and commit horrific acts, including Mildred, but you’re right, this is a novel about the prison of militant nationalism and toxic masculinity, and how those confines really in the end harm us all, regardless of gender.

Many of the interactions between men and women in the book are taken directly from my own life: critical comments issued about female bodies, unwanted attention, a sense of never truly being safe, patronizing treatment, and even assault and rape. Someone very close to me in my own family, a woman I love and admire and look up to as being one of the hardest-working and strongest humans I know, was put in the ER by her own husband. He dangled one of her sons over a balcony in their large house, he beat her senseless. I remember keenly when my parents received the phone call about her hospitalization. I was in grade school. I remember listening to their hushed, upset voices, and how endlessly dark the night sky seemed through their bedroom window. How could someone do this to another human being? That man was a radiologist; he ended up losing his Washington State medical license for abusing patients, but he’s practicing again in Idaho.

I was working on a new draft of this book when Trump said his “grab them by the pussy” comment, and what I felt — what a lot of women felt — was actual physical pain. It was hard to breath, my lower body ached, and a hurtful memory from when I was 14 began to plague me. For years I’d told myself that what had happened was my own fault, but I was approaching 40 now, and it was ridiculous to keep deceiving myself in this way. My mom arrived one day when I was working on one of the most violent scenes in the novel, and she could see I was agitated, depressed. I told her I didn’t know what I was doing to myself, writing in these dark places, and pulling from events I’d never let myself fully articulate to anyone, let alone myself. My mom suspected what was happening to me at 14 with this older boy, and we’ve now had open discussions about it. At the time I assumed it was all my fault, but it was not. It’s also bigger than being just that boy’s fault (he, like Kavanaugh, was 17 at the time): Something societal needs to change. I poured a lot of these emotions and memories into the book. 1944 really isn’t that far away. A lot has changed, and very little has changed, too.

Trump’s presidency has not caused more misogyny or racism or ignorance, the way some people think. It’s a product of it. This has been in our country for a long time, this white nationalism and misogyny. He is the poster child for it now (and he’s a child in so many ways, behaviorally); he represents a staunch portion of the population unwilling to open their minds and evolve. My own personal belief is that the humanities can teach us how to become better people. But I also see the naiveté in such a statement. Are we broken beyond fixing? I’m not sure. I hope not.

The Cassandra also became unexpectedly timely when Hanford started popping up in the national news again, this time for leaking nuclear waste tanks and, most recently, for attempted shut downs of Hanford watchdog groups. Now that I’ve researched Hanford, I’m not surprised by any of this. We’ll be feeling the direct repercussions of Hanford’s creation in our region and country for a long time, environmentally and ethically. When the administration gloats about funding nuclear programs and major defense/weapons programs, I cringe. We are setting ourselves up to destroy more, when what we need is repair.

This is a novel about the prison of militant nationalism and toxic masculinity, and how those confines in the end harm us all, regardless of gender.

BS: It’s early in the year, but these lines have to be some of the most sobering I’ll encounter throughout 2019:

“The things we’ve done to the children of this world — slavery, brainwashing, exile, genocide — do any other creatures harm their children this way? These deviances built our own nation, they’ve built all of the civilizations of men. I awoke with the certainty that none of us deserved to be alive, myself least of all.”

I know we’re technically dealing with fiction here, but this feels as real as it gets. How difficult was it to admit something so haunting about our species — and ourselves?

Sharma Shields: I grew up very sheltered from the truth of our history, regional and otherwise. In school, we learned the Whitman Massacre in Walla Walla was a “thoughtless tragedy,” rather than a retaliation of the Cayuse for being systematically murdered by the Whitmans and other settlers. Hitler was talked about as an anomaly, as if genocide wasn’t occurring here, or wasn’t occurring worldwide at that very moment. Slavery was also a thing of the past, not to concern ourselves with, and when I asked someone in my family about it, they said we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for what our ancestors did.

I’m of the other mindset: We should beat ourselves up for what we’ve done. What we should not do is draw a line between our present selves and our history; the two are inextricable. It is easy to be lazy, complicit. So easy. I’m guilty of it even as we speak. But we are educated humans, capable of imagination and empathy and hopefully social evolution. By acknowledging our darkness, our propensity for violence and greed and cruelty, maybe we can begin to imagine shedding it for something less harmful. Is such evolution possible? I really don’t know.

It’s been upsetting for me to see the ways in which children, especially, are harmed in this world. Having children now, I read the news and I’m gripped by a profound sadness for the joy and love we are shuttering. Native girls and women are missing and/or dead, children are separated from their parents on the border, a girl on the Pakistan/Indian border is tortured to death because her religion is not the same as someone else’s, children in the public school where my husband teaches are homeless, maybe to avoid being abused again, or because their own parents are in jail, or have abandoned them for drugs. Near and far there is failure. And it’s our failure, collectively.

It may be true that it makes me critical of myself, these thoughts, that I’m always pressing myself to do better, and I’m always examining my own failures of kindness and fairness and compassion (of which there are many, so many). But I’m sick of individualism, of this country with its pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps mentality, a mentality that has never and does not apply to marginalized groups. There was a great article in the New York Times recently about women in politics, about how they must rise as a group effort and not individually. At first I was annoyed that we as women can’t go it alone, but then I realized: Going it alone might be the whole problem. There is hope in unification, in coming together rather than tearing apart.

Now we just need all of us to unify somehow. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know if I believe we can do it, but I hope so. My novel is intended to be a warning about what will happen if we don’t.

By acknowledging our darkness, our propensity for violence and greed and cruelty, maybe we can begin to imagine shedding it for something less harmful.

BS: You, I believe, are one of our great writers working within magical realism and weird fiction. Whether I’m reading one of your stories from Favorite Monster or exploring the worlds and situations you’ve crafted in your two novels, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac and The Cassandra, you are someone who boldly embraces the fantastic. What is it that attracts you to this genre of writing?

SS: I’ve always felt there was truth in our nightmares and in the unkno


Weird Time in Frankenstein

In Elisa Gabbert’s column Mess with a Classic, she revisits canonical works of literature and addresses the anxiety of confronting the art of the past (and the past in general).

In her short nonfiction book Ongoingness—a single long, fragmentary essay—Sarah Manguso writes a meditative exegesis on her own diary, a document nearing a million words that she has added to daily, obsessively, for twenty-five years. This practice felt like a necessity, a hedge against potential failures of memory, and a way to process the onslaught of time: “I couldn’t face the end of a day without a record of everything that had ever happened.” It started when she was a teenager. She went to an art opening with a dear friend, drank wine from a plastic cup, looked at paintings—“It was all too much,” the moment was “too full.” She wouldn’t have time to “recover” from the beauty of the day, she realized, since tomorrow would offer only more experience: “There should be extra days, buffer days, between the real days.” (I’ve often thought there should be a little buffer between months: a monthend.)

When Manguso became a mother, this anxious relationship to time changed:

In my experience nursing is waiting. The mother becomes the background against which the baby lives, becomes time.

I used to exist against the continuity of time. Then I became the baby’s continuity, a background of ongoing time for him to live against.


Manguso stopped worrying so much about “lost memories”—being pregnant makes you forgetful, and when you have a small baby, most days feel the same. But aging also changes us; we’ve moved farther to the right on the timeline of our lives (that’s how I picture it, like a side-scrolling video game), a line whose end point is death. At some point you can assume there’s more time behind than ahead. Manguso mentions reading an essay by a ninety-year-old writer, the last thing he ever published, that issued a “terrible warning.” She paraphrases the warning and does not name the writer, so I googled a few vague words and was surprised to find the essay right away: “Nearing 90,” by William Maxwell. “I am not—I think I am not—afraid of dying,” Maxwell writes;

When I was 17 I worked on a farm in southern Wisconsin … The farm had come down in that family through several generations, to a woman who was so alive that everything and everybody seemed to revolve around her personality. She lived well into her 90’s and then one day told her oldest daughter that she didn’t want to live anymore, that she was tired.

This remark, he writes, “reconciled me to my own inevitable extinction.” He has few regrets, and many happy memories, but if he wanders too deep into nostalgic reveries, they can keep him up all night. This is the warning Manguso refers to: the past can act as a kind of trap. Maxwell adds, “I have liked remembering almost as much as I have liked living”—a thought I find beautiful and comforting. With so little to look forward to—he died at ninety-one—Maxwell took solace in looking back. Manguso, for her part, is finally able to take solace in forgetting: as time piles up, she loses access to specific moments, but begins to accept that life is ongoing, not discrete but continuous. It’s more and more and more until it’s over.

Because I had just read Ongoingness, when I started reading Frankenstein I was thinking about time. (Well, I am always thinking about time.) Time is weird in Frankenstein, in part because of the nested narratives. First there’s the epistolary framing narrative, the letters that Captain Walton writes to his sister on his voyage toward the North Pole. He and his crew rescue a man at sea, a man who turns out to be Victor Frankenstein. Victor then takes over the narrative, basically telling his life story, starting from birth (to the captain, but also to us). We get to the monster part in chapter 5. After many months of self-seclusion, subsumed in his studies of “natural philosophy,” chemistry, and other dark arts, “on a dreary night in November” Frankenstein brings his gruesome humanoid to life. His fascination with this project instantly dissolves: “The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” He runs from his creation to his bedroom and, unbelievably, tries to go to sleep, and, unbelievably, succeeds, only to be woken by the monster peeking in through his bed curtains, like the Ghost of Christmas Past. Again Victor runs away, this time out into the courtyard. By morning, the monster is gone. Then something like two years go by with no monster in sight; he’s on Frankenstein’s mind, but he’s not in the story.

We meet the monster again in chapter 10. Frankenstein’s young brother has been murdered, and their beloved servant girl executed for the crime. Victor is sure, though, that his creation is to blame. The doctor has been been wandering around gazing at the Alps—the “glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature,” these “sublime and magnificent scenes” providing modest consolation to his suffering. And suddenly there is the monster, “the wretch.” Victor goes off: “Do you dare approach me? … Begone, vile insect!” The “daemon” responds quite calmly, and in high formal register: “I expected this reception … all men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!”

Then another embedded narrative begins; the “abhorred devil” takes Frankenstein back to his “hut upon the mountain” and tells his own tale. We learn, in the monster’s words, what he’s been doing all this time—taking shelter in a hovel behind a cottage, and observing the family inside through cracks in the walls. From this poor, compassionate family—the father is blind—he learns something of humanity, and language; he learns even more from a “leathern portmanteau” he finds that contains some books, among them Paradise Lost and “Sorrows of Werter”! (Never mind how he learns to read; we don’t even know why he’s alive.) Like Napoleon and half of Europe in the late eighteenth century, Frankenstein’s monster gets a touch of Werther Fever: “I thought Werter himself a more divine being than I had ever beheld or imagined; his character contained no pretension, but it sunk deep.” Werther’s suicide causes him to weep, “without precisely understanding it.”

Because of this nonlinear storytelling, we’re left to puzzle out just what Victor was up to during his monster’s intellectual coming of age. It’s tricky in part because the emotional texture of their experiences was different. The monster’s years feel richer, thus longer, to the reader; they held more joy. But from inside the experience, Victor’s years full of fear and regret would surely have felt longer than the monster’s happy ones; pain elongates time. On the other (other) hand, these were the first two years of the monster’s existence; time is elongated in childhood in part because each day accounts for such a large proportion of one’s lifetime so far. (There’s also a theory that because children’s hearts beat faster, “their body clocks ‘cover’ more time within the space of 24 hours than ours do as adults.” Would this apply to Frankenstein’s monster? Maybe, if his love for the cottagers quickened his pulse.) Can there be true simultaneity in fiction? In what sense do narratives that unspool at different times “happen” at the same time? Some of Shakespeare’s plays seem to operate on two contradictory time scales, a phenomenon critics have dubbed “double time.” But then, there’s no true simultaneity in the real world, either. Here’s Wikipedia’s enchanting ur-voice on the relativity of simultaneity: “According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time if those events are separated


Sarah M. Broom on her book cover

feature yellow house

Read designer Alison Froner thoughts on The Yellow House book cover here.


I was dead set against using family photographs in the design because I felt they would be too literal and representational, so I was surprised by how much I loved this cover. Somehow the images Alison chose retain a great deal of mystery, which matters to me, and she uses photographs in a surprising way. I’m ecstatic that the cover is a map, as is the book in a way, with the people and places—the landmarks— that make up our New Orleans world. There is something musical about it, too. The cover reminds me of those iconic Blue Note Jazz album covers. Alison also managed to communicate the ways in which certain things are broken and fragmented in the narrative, but also immensely joyful. This cover could be my family’s flag.


Books and Looks For Your Night With Captain Marvel

I think we’re all pretty clear at this point that the release of Captain Marvel is going to be a Cultural Event close to, if not on par with, the release of Black Panther. Which means, of course, we’re going to need looks appropriate for the occasion. It also means we’re going to need books to read while we’re waiting for the movie to start, because being at the movies doesn’t mean we stop being readers, now does it, and if you’re as excited as I am, you’re going to see something to occupy your mind for those last few minutes lest your head explode of excitement.

Of course, if you’re bringing a book, you need something to carry it in. Which should match your fandom attire. And you’re going to need some makeup to go with that…

And then there’s the fact Carol Danvers may be our current Captain, but Monica Rambeau, Maria Rambeau’s daughter, also wore that mantle and, in fact, wore it first; she’s also borne several other superhero names including: Spectrum and Photon and she who kicks the butt also gets a Look.

The Carol

We’ll cover the Carol look first since she’s center stage in the initial film outing (in the backstory rewrite, Monica is Carol’s best friend Maria Rambeau’s young daughter). Books first, of course. There are a myriad options but I’m going to start you off with two: the now iconic Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez (Marvel), from which the movie draws some of its source material and a great deal of its attitude and Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe (Titan, 02/25/2019), in which Carol stops a space ship from crashing in to Earth only to discover its pilot, a young Inhuman woman, has risked her life to find help for her people who, having left their home world to escape the rigid caste system, find themselves enslaved and being traded as a commodity. Horrified by this information, Carol recruits Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho to assist her and Rhi in the liberation of Rhi’s people.

What will you be carrying one (or both. Probably both) of these books in? That depends. Are you a tote person or a purse person? Either way, I have you covered. PumpernickelWarez has this fantastic tote:

Or, if you prefer a crossbody model, Loungefly can oblige:

These bags can go with any article of clothing (I’ve never been one to worry if the holder of my stuff matches what I’m wearing on a given day provided it…well, holds my stuff without killing my neck and shoulder/s) but this, my dearest friends, is a Very Special Occasion and Very Special Occasions call for clothing that screams, “I AM HERE FOR THIS.”

This dress, unfortunately, isn’t going to be available by March 8th, and, once it is out, will only be available at the Disney Parks Dress Shop. I know. That said, I absolutely adore it and, therefore, couldn’t not include it because, surely, we will all be seeing Captain Marvel more than once, we will all be having home viewing parties, and there will be sequels.

Captain Marvel Dress

More casual members of the fandom can, as has been the case in recent years, look to Hot Topic for t-shirt and hoodie needs:

And if you really want to capture that fighter pilot/space badass look, there’s this Luca Designs motorcycle jacket which, depending on your preferences, can be made in either faux leather or sheepskin.

If you enjoy wearing makeup, well…that’s a whole world of coordinating options.

Captain Marvel star Brie Larson had that fantastic gold Hala star on the back of her top (top. Because she wore pants!) at a Singapore fan event, and you can do her and our hero homage with Urban Decays metallic Midnight Cowboy Heavy Metal Glitter eyeliner, Midnight Blast Metallic Moon dust eyeshadow and Sephora Brand Golden Party Cream Lip Stain and Rouge Gel Lip Liner in Nude Beach. Colour Pop has your reds and blues covered with: Two Piece pressed powder shadow, Blew Ya Mind BFF Mascara, Lucky Star Ultra Satin Lip, and Frenchie Pencil Lippie Pencil.

Darling, you look lovely and, more importantly, powerful enough to punch Thanos hard enough to undo the snap. And, more importantly, you match your books perfectly.

The Monica

Monica Rambeau is the oft overlooked first female Captain Marvel (remember Carol was Ms. Marvel until 2012), making her debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 (1982). She was a member of the Avengers, even leading the team for a time, until she lost her powers helping them rescue Namor’s wife from a sea monster. Monica eventually regained said powers (of course) and went on to kick butt under a number of names including Spectrum and Photon, the later of which was her mother Maria’s pilot call sign in the Air Force (as featured in Captain Marvel).

Monica has never really had a book of her own but she’s been featured prominently as an Avenger, team-up aficionado, and solo hero in a number of other books, all of her adventures recently collected in Captain Marvel: Monica Rambeau. It’s a little spendy for a TPB but, in my opinion (aka: reader, I sprang for it,) worth it to have all of Monica’s featured stories in one place. I’m hoping that it’s a precursor to her getting a new book of her own but with Marvel being Marvel these days, who knows and, even if it did happen, they’d probably cancel it after three issues anyway so…*shrug*

Regardless, Monica deserves to be celebrated as much as Carol does for forging Captain America’s path into popular consciousness and popular culture.

Alas, our girl doesn’t have nearly as much merch as Carol, which doesn’t mean we can’t put together a good look and hopefully, with the publicity the movie will bring for both her mother Maria, and Monica herself, the options will expand in the coming months and years.

There’s hope, though, Corps aficionados, especially if you have an affinity for chibi. Check out this Spectrum bag CreativeWiz has up on Red Bubble (also available as a shirt, pillow, mug…)

Hot Topic comes through again on the t-shirts, with this fabulous purple number featuring Maria Rambeau:

And Saly972 has the classic Spectrum Star available on Red Bubble:

Oh, and the makeup possibilities for this look? Hell, yes. Fenty Beauty has a Liquid Flyliner in black while Urban Decay has a Glide-On Pencil in Metallic White.  For shadow options, we turn again to Colour Pop’s gorgeous brights and stunning neutrals, for BAE, Routlette, Wittle, and Tassel. To really bring out the colors, try Benefit Bad Gal Bang! Volumizing Mascara. And for lipstick, Kaja has Color Change Mood Balm that couldn’t be more perfect.

Higher, further, faster, more, Carol and Maria/Monica Corps. Fifteen days to launch.


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