Bestselling author Ruth Ozeki has been awarded the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel The Book of Form & Emptiness.
The book follows Benny Oh, a 14-year-old boy who begins to hear voices from inanimate objects after the death of his father. When his mother develops a hoarding problem and the voices refuse to go away, he’s forced to take cover in the silence of a public library, where he encounters a beguiling street artist with a pet ferret and a homeless philosopher who encourages him to find his own voice in the multitude.
Best known for the Man Booker shortlisted A Tale for the Time Being, the author was on hand to accept the award at the ceremony hosted in Bedford Square Gardens, London by Women’s Prize Founder Director, novelist Kate Mosse.
A celebration of the power of books
2022 Chair of Judges Mary Ann Sieghart had the following to say:
“In an extraordinary year for fiction written by women, and from an incredible strong shortlist, we were thrilled to choose Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form & 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. Ruth Ozeki is a truly original and masterful storyteller.”
The Women’s Prize for Fiction is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards. Bestowed annually to a female author of any nationality for the best English-language novel published in the UK the previous year, the winning author receives a £30,000 prize as well as a bronze sculpture called the Bessie. This year’s shortlist included titles from Elif Shafak, Meg Mason, Maggie Shipstead and Louise Erdrich.
Speaking afterwards to the PA news agency, Ozeki said she did not expect to win at all:
“It’s kind of crazy. I feel like I am a person who doesn’t win prizes – it’s lovely to be nominated, but I never, ever think it will go beyond that – and in this case in particular the Women’s Prize does such a wonderful job of bringing us all together and it feels very strange to have actually won.”
The Book of Form & Emptiness is published by Canongate Books.