The Winner Of The 2022 Women's Prize For Fiction Announced
Last week another prestigious literary awards have announced their winner. The 2022 Women's Prize for Fiction was handed to Ruth Ozeki for her humane and heartbreaking novel The Book of Form and Emptiness.
As the Chair of Judges Mary Ann Sieghart has noted: “In an extraordinary year for fiction written by women, and from an incredibly strong shortlist, we were thrilled to choose Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness, which stood out for its sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy. A celebration of the power of books and reading, it tackles big issues of life and death, and is a complete joy to read. Ruth Ozeki is a truly original and masterful storyteller.”
The Book of Form and Emptiness is about a fourteen-year old boy Benny who after the tragic death of his father begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house and sound variously pleasant, angry or sad. Then his mother develops a hoarding problem, and the voices grow more clamorous. When ignoring them doesn’t work, Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library. There he meets a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret; a homeless philosopher-poet who encourages him to find his own voice amongst the many; and his very own Book, who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
The Book of Form and Emptiness blends memorable characters, a riveting plot and a vibrant engagement with a variety of themes, including grief and loss, growing up, neurodiversity, climate change, jazz and our attachment to material possessions. “As a child, I related to objects as though they were semi-sentient, and even now I think about the stories that things could tell if only they could speak. Do things (trees, pebbles, toaster ovens, nuclear reactors, etc.) speak? Can they teach us about life? About reality? Obviously, the answer is yes, if we could only learn to listen,” Ruth Ozeki explains her inspiration for the book.
Ruth Ozeki is an American novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. The Book of Form and Emptiness is her fourth novel. Her third novel A Tale for the Time Being was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. She has also written My Year of Meats and All Over Creation.
Last year the winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction was Susanna Clarke and her novel Piranesi.