Melinda Gates Donates US$250,000 to New Carol Shields Prize for Fiction by Women

From Publishing Perspectives:

The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction may not be a literary or publishing award you know, and that’s because it has yet to be awarded.

Today (January 15), however, the program has announced a donation from Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures investment and incubation firm, a handsome US$250,000, which is sure to help make this specialized awards program make a viable start on its mission to recognize the work of women and nonbinary writers in Canada and the United States.

When the new award was announced in February 2020, Marsha Lederman wrote for The Globe and Mail in Toronto this anecdote about the late American-born Canadian novelist and short-story writer (1935 to 2003):

“Carol Shields earned Hanover College’s top writing prize when she graduated from the Indiana school in 1957. She did not, however, receive it. The committee gave the prize to the second-place student instead. Because he was a he. He would need to make a living, the thinking went, and the prize would help.”

And the co-founders of the Shields Prize—Susan Swann and Janice Zawerbny—created the award as one that not only would recognize women’s work but do so handsomely, with a winner’s purse of 150,000 Canadian dollars (US$118,000) and four nominees’ payouts of 12,500 Canadian dollars each (US$9,821).

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

2 thoughts on “Melinda Gates Donates US$250,000 to New Carol Shields Prize for Fiction by Women”

  1. I asked nicely (you may request a copy of my email) if this new prize would include indies.

    Here is the answer, in part, to my question, from one of the prize founders:

    “When we speak about inclusion for the prize, we don’t just mean sexuality or the colour of a person’s skin, we do consider physical disability/those with differing abilities, as part of our inclusion mandate. So we completely agree with you.

    Unfortunately, the prize will be based on submissions for publishers. It’s logistically (if not physically) impossible for us to have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of writers from the US and Canada submitting their books to us for consideration.”

    I’m starting to understand how ‘systemic’ works against anyone who is not already part of the traditional publishing establishment, or willing to be mentored by it.

    I hoped for better from them. All we got is same-old.

    If I weren’t so exhausted, I’d take them on – some of these things are starting to yield to collective action.

    And by the way, it’s Dr., not Ms.

    • Were you really expecting anything different?

      Pretty much the only way they could cope with indies is to use some kind of reader nomination system and base the shortlist on reader votes. This would imply a total loss of control on the part of the organisers and who knows what might be nominated …

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