2021 Women's Prize For Fiction Awarded To The Winner Like No Other - Susanna Clarke's Piranesi
In autumn we start counting the winners of the most prestigious literary awards. And here's the first one, presented yesterday at the awards ceremony - 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction was handed to Susanna Clarke's Piranesi.
This writer's name might ring the bell for those who 17 years ago have enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell about the 19th century magicians. It was Susanna Clarke's debut novel, which brought her a worldwide success, however a long chronic illness has forced her to make a pause. Therefore Clarke's second novel Piranesi has come up only after 17 years but immediately made it to the top.
Piranesi is “a truly original, unexpected flight of fancy which melds genres and challenges preconceptions about what books should be,” said the Women’s prize chair of judges, Booker-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo. According to Susanna Clarke, Piranesi was nurtured, written and publicised during a long illness. It is the book that I never thought I would get to write - I never thought I’d be well enough. So this feels doubly extraordinary.
In the novel Piranesi lives in the House and records everything in his notebooks. On Tuesdays and Fridays he sees his friend The Other. But one day Piranesi notices new messages, which reveal that there's someone else in the House. And suddenly the world that Piranesi knew becomes strange and dangerous.
Susanna Clarke's Piranesi was shortlisted together with another five novels: Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, Claire Fuller's Unsettled Ground, Yaa Gyasi's Transcemdent Kingdom, Cherie Jones' How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, and Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This.
According to one of the judges Sarah-Jane Mee, the news broadcaster, “it was difficult because this year’s shortlist was so varied. But we went for something that was totally original. We’ve had a year like no other, and we feel that we’ve got a winner like no other. It’s certainly like nothing I’ve ever read before, and we all kept returning to this book. So it was so hard to compare these books, because they were all so different and individually brilliant, but Piranesi really made a lasting impression on us.”
Last year Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet won 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction.
Any woman writing in English - whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter – is eligible to present her book for the Women's Prize for Fiction. Novels must be published in the United Kingdom between 1 April in the year the Prize calls for entries, and 31 March the following year, when the Prize is announced.