Books  |  Sep 9, 2021

Susanna Clarke wins Women’s Prize 2021

Susanna Clarke has won the Women's Prize for Fiction with her second novel, Piranesi.

The announcement was made at the awards ceremony in London on September 8th. The event was hosted by novelist and prize founder director Kate Mosse. The 2021 chair of judges, Bernardine Evaristo, presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the "Bessie", a limited edition bronze figurine by Grizel Niven. Evaristo said: “We wanted to find a book that we'd press into readers’ hands, which would have a lasting impact. 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.”

Clarke, who was struck by a chronic illness after the release of her debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, said of her win: "I have loved being a shortlisted author. I think I will love [being the winner] too, once I get over the shock. Piranesi was nurtured, written and publicised during a long illness, it was the book I never thought I'd get to write, I never thought I'd be well enough. So this feels doubly extraordinary, I'm doubly honoured to be here. My hope is that my standing here tonight will encourage other women who are incapacitated by long illness."

Piranesi is a mysterious tale that examines the nature of fantasy and introduces readers to an astonishing new world; an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds. It has been shortlisted for other awards such as the Hugo Award, Costa Novel Award and the Nebula Award, and has received an array of stellar reviews proclaiming it a ‘miraculous and luminous feat of storytelling’ that showcases an ‘irresistible unspooling mystery set in a world of original strangeness’.