Sri Lankan writer Ganeshananthan’s novel Brotherless Night is the winner of the 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction. She was awarded a cash prize of $150,000. All the shortlisted authors were also awarded an additional $12,500. This is the richest English-language literary prize in the world for women and non-binary authors.

The other four shortlisted authors were:

  • Eleanor Catton for Birnam Wood

  • Claudia Dey for Daughter

  • Kim Coleman Foote for Coleman Hill)

  • Janika Oza for A History of Burning

In the novel, 16-year-old Sashi wants to become a doctor. But over the next decade, as a vicious civil war tears through her hometown of Jaffna, her dream takes her on a different path as she sees those around her, including her four beloved brothers and their friend, get swept up in violent political ideologies and their consequences. Desperate to act, she must ask herself: is it possible for anyone to move through life without doing harm?

The jury was chaired by Jen Sookfong Lee and comprised Laila Lalami, Claire Messud, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, and Eden Robinson. The jury said that the novel, “…Brotherless Night 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, VV Ganeshananthan asks us to consider how history is told, whom it serves, and the many truths it leaves out. A magnificent book.”

Also read:
‘Brotherless Night’: A powerful novel about waiting and resisting during Sri Lanka’s civil war