Melinda Gates, the billionaire philanthropist and former general manager of Microsoft, has donated $250,000 to the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, reported The Oprah Magazine.
The Prize, which is named in honour of late writer Carol Shields and will be launched in 2023, celebrates women’s contributions to fiction in American and Canadian literature.
The donation was made through Gates’ investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures. The Prize was announced in February 2020 and according to OprahMag.com, the winner will get a prize money of $150,000, which is the highest among all literary awards in the world, with the exception of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
“Throughout history, women have been writing profound groundbreaking books. Yet often they earn less, are reviewed less frequently, and are overlooked for awards. The Carol Shields Prize is an exciting step toward a future where books by women get the attention and prestige they deserve,” Gates told OprahMag.com.
“Through all my travels around the world, whether in a Northern Indian village or a remote part of Tanzania, women tell me, ‘Nobody’s ever asked me my story before, they’ve never asked me about my life.’ By listening to their stories, and saying their names we were telling them: your lives are important. That’s why what the Carol Shields Prize will be doing is essential,” Gates further told OprahMag.com.
The Carol Shields Prize was founded by Canadian writer Susan Swan and Janice Zawerbny, an editor at HarperCollins Canada. Among the other board members, prominent names include writers Margaret Atwood, Louise Erdrich, Ann Patchett, and Natasha Trethewey, among others.
Shields was born in 1935 and has authored over 20 books, including novels, plays, poetry, essays, criticism, short fiction, and biography. Her novel The Stone Diaries won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction (Canada) and the Pulitzer Prize in the USA was shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize in London.