LONDON (AP) — American-Canadian writer Ruth Oseki won the prestigious Women’s Fiction Award Wednesday for The Book of Form and Void.
Ozeki was awarded a £30,000 ($36,000) prize at a ceremony in London for her playful, philosophical romance about an orphaned boy’s relationship with the books and objects in his home – anything that speaks to him. His world becomes increasingly cacophonous as his widowed mother deals with her discontent by hoarding.
Inspired in part by Buddhist philosophy and the decluttering stories of Marie Kondo, the novel explores the complex relationship between people and their possessions.
British journalist Mary Ann Sighart, who chaired the jury, said that Özeki’s novel “stands out for its vivid writing, warmth, intelligence, humor and poignancy”.
“A celebration of the power of books and reading, it touches on important issues of life and death and is a delight to read,” she said.
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Ozeki, who is also a filmmaker and a Zen priest, is the author of three previous environmental novels, including the environmental novels My Meat Year and All Creation. She was a finalist for the Booker Prize in 2013 for A Tale for Time, a Pacific Ocean story set in the aftermath of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.
She also stared at her face in a mirror for three hours for the nonfiction book Facial Time Code.
Ozeki’s novel was ranked first by New Zealand author Meg Mason’s Sorrow and Bliss, Island of the Lost Trees by Turkish-British writer Elif Shafak and The Great Circle by American writer Maggie Shipstead. This year’s other finalists were “The Judgment” by American writer Louise Erdrich and “Bread Kneaded by the Devil” by Trinidadian writer Lisa Allen-Agostini.
The Women’s Award, established in 1996, is open to English-speaking women writers from all over the world. Previous winners have included Zadie Smith, Tyari Jones and Maggie O’Farrell. Last year, the winner was Suzanne Clarke for her literary fantasy Piranesi.
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