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... 

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 Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.

Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for 

After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!