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    Fatimah Asghar takes the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction.

    Janet Manley

    May 5, 2023, 9:34am

    The “richest literary prize in the world for women and non-binary writers,” The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, announced its first winner over night at an event at Parnassus Books. Please have a glass in hand …

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    Fatimah Asghar, author of When We Were Sisterspublished by One World/Random House, takes the $150,000 prize as well as a paid residency at Fogo Island Inn in Canada. The jury praised When We Were Sisters as:

    “A debut novel written by a skilled, assured hand, When We Were Sisters absolutely dazzles. Following three orphaned Muslim American siblings as they navigate great loss and painful comings of age, Fatimah Asghar weaves narrative threads as exacting and spare as luminous poems, their fragility a mere guise for their complete, unflinching indestructibility. Noreen, Aisha, and Kausar show us what they truly need to survive, even when everything seems taken away. Asghar’s novel is a tour de force, at once stirring and beautiful, breathtaking in its lyricism, and head-turning in its experimentations.”

    The shortlist included Daphne Palasi Andreades for Brown Girls, Talia Lakshmi Kolluri for What We Fed to the Manticore, Suzette Mayr for The Sleeping Car Porter and Alexis Schaitkin for Elsewhere.

    Asghar not only has a previous poetry collection, but they are behind the web series Brown Girls, were co-editor of Halal If You Hear Me, an anthology that celebrates Muslim writers who are also women, queer, gender-nonconforming, and/or trans, and were co-producer on Disney+’s Ms. Marvel, writing the “Time and Again” episode.

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    An excellent kickoff! Long live the Carol Shields Prize.

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