During the Vancouver Writers Fest, frustration turned into creation. A panel of five women, including the founder of the U.K.’s Orange Prize for fiction, discussed the current state of women’s representations in literature. And the statistics provided by panel member, novelist Susan Swan, were depressing.
34% of the Giller Prize & Govern General fiction prize winners were women.
20% of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction were women.
11% of the Nobel Prize Winners, 8% of Stephen Leacock Award winners were women.
Editorial director of Thomas Allen Publishers, Janice Zawerbny, was in the audience and was shocked at the result. And then she got angry. So she decided to take action. Zawerbny is now establishing a literary prize for Canadian women writers. The Rosalind Prize for fiction is named after Rosalind from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It and the British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, who made major contributions to the discovery of DNA that were overlooked.
Swan feels that establishing this prize will be great for Canadian women writers.
I think it will boost the literary careers of Canadian women writers and bring awareness to the need for more consistent critical support of fiction by Canadian women.
Zawerbny is currently looking into finding corporate sponsors for the award. She plans to model the prize off the U.K.’s Orange prize and Australia’s recently launched Stella prize and is hoping for a 2014 launch.
Canada's Orange Prize: Why we created an award just for female writers (The Globe and Mail)
Women 'under-reviewd' and 'under-valued' in literature, critic says (The Vancouver Sun)