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Fatimah Ashgar wins $150,000 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

NEW YORK (AP) — A debut novel by the poet and screenwriter Fatimah Ashgar has won the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a $150,000 honor named for the late Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and given for outstanding work by a woman or non-binary person in the U.S. or Canada.

Ashgar’s “When We Were Sisters,” the story of three Muslim-American siblings, was praised Thursday by judges for weaving “narrative threads as exacting and spare as luminous poems, their fragility a mere guise for their complete, unflinching indestructibility.”

Ashgar is known for the poetry collection “If They Come for Us” and as the co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series “Brown Girls.”

Shields, who died in 2003 at age 68, was an American-born author who spent much of her life in Canada. She won the Pulitzer in 1994 for her novel “The Stone Diaries.” The Shields prize is overseen by the Carol Shields Prize Foundation, which provides grants and other forms of assistance to women and non-binary writers.