Earlier this year, we learned of the founding of the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, which is the first English-language literary award to celebrate excellence in fiction by women writers in the United States and Canada. And today, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction announced that it has received a $250,000 donation from philanthropist, women’s advocate and writer Melinda Gates through her investment and incubation company Pivotal Ventures.
“We are so grateful to Melinda Gates for supporting women writers in North America,” said Carol Shields Prize co-founders Susan Swan and Janice Zawerbny. “Female authors, like women everywhere, have taken a hit during the pandemic, and this generous donation allows our new annual literary award to deliver an economic boost to a wider, more diverse group of women.”
Named for Carol Shields, whose novel The Stone Diaries won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction is the biggest monetary prize for women who write in the English language: it will award $150,000 to its winner and $12,500 to four finalists.The inaugural prize will be awarded in 2023 and will be open to women and nonbinary fiction writers in the US and Canada for a short story collection or novel.
Said Gates, “Throughout history, women have been writing profound, groundbreaking books. Yet, women authors earn less, are reviewed less often in major literary publications, and are routinely overlooked for awards. Ours will be a more equal society—and a more interesting one—when we expand the types of stories we deem to be worthy of recognition. The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction is an exciting step toward a future where books by women get the attention and prestige that they deserve.”
If Gates is inspiring you to donate, donate—and if you’re inspired to submit, get writing!