As International Women’s day approaches on March 8, there’s an exciting new opportunity for women and non-binary writers: the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction will be awarding one North American author with a $150,000 cash prize.  It’s a pretty big deal, considering it’s now the largest prize of its kind in Canada and the U.S.

Set to launch in 2022, the award is in partnership with the Fogo Island Inn in Fogo Island, N.L. –  a remote destination surrounded by the North Atlantic. The winner will have the chance to complete a residency at the inn with an emerging writer of their choosing in a joint mentorship program. Four finalists will also receive $12,500.

The prize is co-founded by Toronto-based author Susan Swan and senior editor at HarperCollins Canada, Janice Zawerbny. It’s backed by recognizable Canadian authors such as Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Dionne Brand. Shields, the award’s namesake, was a well-known Canadian-American author, who penned books like The Stone Diaries and Unless.

A statement on the Carol Shields Prize website reads: “By putting the work of women writers in the spotlight — and by creating charitable grants and mentorships for marginalized and under-represented writers — this new annual literary award will acknowledge, celebrate and promote fiction by a wider, more diverse, and inclusive group of women writers.”

As Margaret Atwood told the Guardian, she hopes the prize will “help balance the gender scales in the awarding of North American prizes for excellence in fiction, which, overall, now stand at one-third female to two-thirds male.”


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