V. V. Ganeshananthan Wins the $150,000 Carol Shields Prize

In News by Porter Anderson

The 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction goes to V. V. Ganeshananthan for her Penguin Random House release ‘Brotherless Night.’

V.V. Ganeshananthan. Image: Sophia Mayrhofer

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘An Ambitious and Beautifully Written Novel’
The American writer V.V. Ganeshananthan is the winner of the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction and wins the US$150,000 purse for her novel Brotherless Night, published by Penguin Random House.

Our readers will recall the five-title shortlist named in April for this program, which acknowledges the work of women and non-binary writers in Canada and the United States. Its large cash award is made possible by a donation from BMO Financial Group.

It’s named for an American-born Canadian writer who may be best remembered for winning the Pulitzer Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for her 1993 novel, The Stone Diaries (Penguin Random House). The co-founders of the Shields Prize—Susan Swan, Janice Zawerbny, and Don Oravec—created the award as one that would recognize women’s work generously.

In addition to the main award, each of the four runners-up from the shortlist receives $12,500.

A statement of rationale from the jury calls Ganeshananthan’s book “an ambitious and beautifully written novel [that] explores how ordinary people can be swept up in political violence and, despite their best efforts, eventually be swallowed by it. Through her sensitively crafted characters, V. V. Ganeshananthan asks us to consider how history is told, whom it serves, and the many truths it leaves out. A magnificent book.”

A former vice president of the South Asian Journalists Association, Ganeshananthan has also served on the board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is presently a member of the boards of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies and the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota. In addition to Brotherless Night, she’s the author of Love Marriage, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The 2024 Carol Shields Prize Shortlist

The 2024 Carol Shields Prize shortlist. Image: Carol Shields Prize

Repeating the program’s shortlist, four of the five shortlisted titles here are from Penguin Random House companies, while one is from SPJ Lit, a press created by the independent house Zando and the actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

  • Birnam Wood: A Novel by Eleanor Catton (Penguin Random House / McClelland & Stewart)
  • Daughter: A Novel by Claudia Dey (Penguin Random House / Doubleday Canada)
  • Coleman Hill by Kim Coleman Foote (SJP Lit)
  • Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan (Penguin Random House)
  • A History of Burning: A Novel by Janika Oza (Penguin Random House / McClelland & Stewart)

Jurors this year are:

  • Jen Sookfong Lee, the jury chair
  • Laila Lalami
  • Claire Messud
  • Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  • Eden Robinson

More from Publishing Perspectives on awards in books and publishing is here, more on women in publishing is here, more on the Canadian market is here, and more on the United States market is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.