Apr 11, 2021
Only seventeen women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature since it started in 1901. That's 17 out of 119 winners. In order to rectify this imbalance, an important new prize has been established. The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction is "the first English-language literary award to celebrate creativity and excellence in fiction by women writers in the United States and Canada."
I wanted to learn more about Carol Shields, so I read Startle and Illuminate, Carol Shields on Writing and interviewed one of its editors, Anne Giardini, who also happens to be Carol's daughter in addition to being a writer, and Chancellor of Simon Fraser University.
Startle and Illuminate is culled from decades worth of Carol's correspondence, essays, notes, comments, criticism and lectures, and drawn together by Anne and her son Nicholas.
Anne and I talk here about, among other things, Carol's thoughts and advice on the craft of writing; redemption; Carol's voice on the page and in the air; the existence of ordinary, boring people; the invisibility of women's lives; group courage; rootedness; and candles matching housecoats.