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Does the literary world need a women-only prize?

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(Read caption) The Stella Prize was named after writer Stella Maria Miles Franklin.

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Does the book world need a literary prize exclusively for female writers?

That is the provocative question at the heart of a bold new trend slowly circling the literary world.

The U.K., Australia, and Canada apparently think so. Citing gaping gender disparities between recognition of men and women writers, each has launched literary awards just for female writers.

The latest, Canada’s Rosalind Prize for Fiction, was conceived during the Vancouver Writers Fest as a group of women, including the founder of the U.K.’s TK, were discussing the “extreme gender inequality in the awarding of literary prizes both internationally, and in Canada,” according to Canada’s Globe and Mail.

One audience member, Janice Zawerbny, editorial director at Thomas Allen Publishers, was so moved by what she heard, she decided to do something about it.

“I was shocked and dismayed,” she told the Globe and Mail. “I just felt compelled to take action.”

Thus was the Rosalind Prize for Fiction born, a literary prize exclusively for female writers of fiction in Canada.

The prize is named after the sharp and witty female protagonist in Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It.”  It’s also the name of British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, whose largely overlooked contributions helped lay the groundwork for the discovery of DNA.

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