This year saw an extremely good shortlist, with popular titles such as Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett nominated for The Women’s Prize for Fiction.
It was delightful, however, to see the prize go to an unusual novel, which was Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.
Comments by Justine Jordan from The Guardian compare Clarke’s writing to that of CS Lewis and Diana Wynne Jones, but also state that it is “difficult to describe Piranesi to a new reader.”
So what made this book so enticing to readers?
Clarke is already popular for her book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which won many awards including Time’s Best Novel of The Year, and has been adapted by the BBC.
Her new novel, Piranesi, seems to draw on mystery and curiosity which the main character living mostly in solitude. After a lengthily pandemic and many having stayed home for quite some time, it is no wonder Piranesi has become relatable and popular.
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
You can order Piranesi by Susanna Clarke here.
Liked Piranesi? Then check out these:
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland
535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.
Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons.