Ruth Ozeki’s The Book Of Form And Emptiness wins Women’s Prize for Fiction

The winning novel explores loss, growing up and our attachment to material things.

15 June 2022

A novel which “stood out for its sparkling writing and poignancy” has been named winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

American-Canadian author Ruth Ozeki, 66, scooped the prestigious literary prize with her fourth novel The Book Of Form And Emptiness.

It follows on from the success of A Tale From The Time Of Being, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize and translated into 28 languages.

Other works by Ozeki include My Year Of Meats, All Over Creation and a short memoir titled Timecode Of A Face.

This year’s judging panel included journalist and chair Mary Ann Sieghart, as well as writers Dorothy Koomson, Anita Sethi, Pandora Sykes and Lorraine Candy.

Sieghart said: “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.”

She added that Ozeki, who is also a filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest, is a “truly original” and “masterful storyteller”.

Man Booker Prize
The Duchess of Cornwall meets Ruth Ozeki during a reception ahead of the Man Booker Prize (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Ozeki’s winning novel – published by Canongate Books in September 2021 – explores loss, growing up and our relationship with the things that surround us through the story of a grieving teenage boy.

Now in its 27th year, the prestigious prize was open to original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world.

Other titles vying for the prize included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louise Erdrich for her 23rd novel The Sentence, which explores identity, exploitation and how the burdens of history still shape our lives today.

Also shortlisted was Elif Shafak for The Island Of Missing Trees; Maggie Shipstead’s novel Great Circle; The Bread The Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini and Meg Mason’s Sorrow And Bliss.

Ozeki was announced the winner at a ceremony held in central London, and takes home a £30,000 prize endowed by an anonymous donor and the Bessie, a limited edition bronze figure created by Grizel Niven.

Last year’s winner was Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell author Susanna Clarke for her novel Piranesi.

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