Now in it’s 26th year, The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 announced it’s winner last night, on 8 September. Susanna Clarke took the title for her fantasy novel Piranesi, which is about ‘what it means to be human’.
— Women's Prize (@WomensPrize) September 8, 2021
The book’s description reads: ‘Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls.
‘On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?
‘Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.’
The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction receives £30,000 and a bronze figurine known as Bessie for their prize.
The prize this year was judged by novelist Bernadine Evaristo, podcaster, author and journalist Elizabeth Day, TV and radio presenter, journalist and writer Vick Hope, print columnist and writer Nesrine Malik and news presenter and broadcaster Sarah-Jane Mee.
Bernardine Evaristo, whose novel Girl, Woman, Other won the 2019 Booker Prize, said: ‘We wanted to find a book that we’d press into readers’ hands, which would have a lasting impact. With her first novel in seventeen years, Susanna Clarke has given us a truly original, unexpected flight of fancy which melds genres and challenges preconceptions about what books should be. She has created a world beyond our wildest imagination that also tells us something profound about what it is to be human.’
In April, the 6-strong list of books that made the shortlist for this year’s prize were revealed.
If your TBR (to be read) list is looking a little thin at the moment, as always the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist forms an excellent guide for what to read this year. These are some of the absolute best novels written by female authors this year, so you can be guaranteed each one will be as fulfilling a read as the next.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 shortlist:
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
- Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
- How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
- No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
The 16 book-strong longlist featured a range of new and established authors, with novels covering a wide range of genres and themes – ‘family (twins and siblings, mother-daughter relationships); motherhood; rural poverty and isolation; addiction; identity and belonging; race and class; grief and happiness; coming-of-age and later life,’ reads the Women’s Prize for Fiction website.
So if you want even more to add to your must-read list, it’s well worth checking out the other novels from the longlist…
The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 longlist:
- Because of You by Dawn French
- Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
- Consent by Annabel Lyon
- Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
- Luster by Raven Leilani
- Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
- Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
- Summer by Ali Smith
- The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig