The Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 winner has been announced—don't miss this spellbinding mystery

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is in it’s 26th year and celebrates outstanding fiction well worth diving into

Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 winner Susanna Clarke
(Image credit: Sarah Lee)

The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 winner has now been announced after the esteemed judges chaired by Bernadine Evaristo determined which of the sixteen longlisted novels had earned the ultimate prize. 

The Women’s Prize for Fiction has long been considered one of the most prestigious awards for writers across the world. As one of the greatest annual, international celebrations of women’s writing and creativity, the Prize celebrates ambitious and truly unforgettable original fiction written in English by women based anywhere in the world. From the best mystery books to fantasy books there’s so much literary talent to explore. And with some of the best books of 2021 included on the original Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist back in March, this year’s judges were left with a difficult decision to make as they whittled down these spellbinding novels to just one outstanding winner. 

Now this winning novel will surely be joining some of the greats as one of the best books of all time. At an awards ceremony held in Bedford Square Gardens on September 8 hosted by novelist and Women’s Prize Founder Director, Kate Mosse, it was Susanna Clarke who was announced the winner with her novel Piranesi. 

The delighted writer was presented with the £30,000 prize, endowed by an anonymous donor, by the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Chair of Judges Bernardine Evaristo. Susanna was also the recipient of the ‘Bessie’—a limited edition bronze figurine by Grizel Niven in honor of her achievement. 

Bernadine Evaristo and Susanna Clarke attend the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 at Bedford Square Gardens

(Image credit: Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Green Room Agency)

Susanna Clarke’s winning novel, Piranesi, is a dark tale with distinctly Gothic elements. Following Piranesi who lives in a mysterious house, spending his life cut off from the wider world, his head inside his notebooks. However, when messages start to appear scratched out on the pavements, Piranesi begins to wonder if someone else could be infringing on his meticulously curated world... 


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, £6.99 ($10)| Amazon

Living alone and making a clear daily record of his house, Piranesi's world consists of the labyrinth of halls, statues and vast halls, each transfixing him in their own way. Every Tuesday and Friday, he sees his friend, the Other, and sometimes he brings the Dead tributes of food, though Piranesi loves the quiet solitude that fills the rest of his days. Until, that is, he begins to suspect that there is someone new in the House. When messages begin to appear on the pavements, he can't help wondering if the new arrival is a friend or foe...

Speaking during what is the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s milestone 26th year, Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other, revealed the compelling reasoning behind the decision to award Piranesi this highly-coveted prize.

“We wanted to find a book that we'd press into readers’ hands, which would have a lasting impact. With her first novel in seventeen years, Susanna Clarke has given us a truly original, unexpected flight of fancy which melds genres and challenges preconceptions about what books should be,” Bernardine declared. 

“She has created a world beyond our wildest imagination that also tells us something profound about what it is to be human.”

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Bernardine was joined on the Women's Prize for Fiction judging panel this year by podcaster, author and journalist Elizabeth Day, TV and radio presenter, journalist and writer Vick Hope, print columnist and writer Nesrine Malik and news presenter and broadcaster Sarah-Jane Mee. 

Set up in 1996, the Women’s Prize for Fiction promotes fiction written by women, aiming to help it reach the widest range of readers possible. It awards the prize to the best full-length novel of the year published in the UK between April and March the following year. Now Piranesi has definitely become one of those books you should read at least once

Will you be adding new Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi to your reading list this autumn? 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.