Susanna Clarke’s second novel, Piranesi, has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for 2021.
The fantasy novel is the long-awaited sequel to her critically praised debut, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which was published in 2004.
Piranesi, a mystery about a man living alone in a labyrinthine house, won the £30,000 prize over five other books.
The leader of the judging panel, novelist Bernardine Evaristo, stated she and her other judges “wanted to find a book that we’d shove into readers’ hands.”
“With Susanna Clarke’s first novel in 17 years, she has given us a truly creative, unexpected flight of fancy that melds genres and challenges notions about what literature should be,” she continued.
“She has created a world that is beyond our wildest dreams while still revealing something deep about what it is to be human.”
On Wednesday, Clarke received her award, a bronze statuette known as the Bessie, at a ceremony in central London.
The author, who became ill while marketing her debut book and was later diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, dedicated her victory to those women who have been “incapitated by extended illness.”
She informed the crowd, “As some of you will know, Piranesi was nourished, written, and published over a protracted sickness.”
It’s a book I never imagined I’d be able to write. I never imagined I’d be in such good health. As a result, this feels twice as special. “
Susanna Clarke presents an enthralling, immersive setting in which to explore subjects such as loneliness and memory. Bernardine Evaristo has called the novel “a total and utter trip” because of its unconventional style.
And there’s a huge twist at the end that you won’t see coming. I know for a fact that I didn’t.
Clarke was one of two British authors nominated for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, alongside Claire Fuller, for her fourth novel Unsettled Ground (which was formerly called after its old sponsors Orange and Bailey’s).
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, a collection of short stories published in 2006, is one of her other works.