This story was originally published on July 22, 2020 and updated on September 9, 2021.
In the last two decades, this highly respected literary award has been presented to authors of incredibly important and impressive works of fiction, such as Carol Shields, Ali Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Barbara Kingsolver and Zadie Smith. And many past recipients and nominees have gone on to empower aspiring writers to share their stories through mentoring programmes, literary events, reading groups and a weekly podcast hosted by the organisation.
This year, the Women's Prize has been awarded to Susanna Clarke for her sophomore novel, Piranesi.
"As some of you may know, Piranesi was nurtured, written and publicised during a long illness. It is a book that I never thought I would get to write; I never thought I'd be well enough. My hope is that my standing here tonight will encourage other women who are incapacitated by long illness. This is an immense and incredible honour," says Clarke in her acceptance speech.
Her spellbinding story brings you into the strange and eerie world of Piranesi. He lives in the House, which somehow holds an ocean on the bottom floor, with waves crashing onto the marble staircase that leads to endless corridors and interconnected halls. At the top of this partially ruined house, thick clouds move in slow procession. Twice a week, Piranesi is visited by his friend, the Other and together, they search for A Great and Secret Knowledge.
But as the story unfolds in a succession of diary entries from this curious protagonist, you start to wonder how Piranesi even came to become the Beloved Child of The House, wordlessly tending to its needs and inhabitants. Is the House a sanctuary or a prison?
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