The inaugural Pleasure of Reading Prize was awarded to Ali Smith.

The prize recognises an author, writing in English, who gives pleasure through their work.

“There is a particular pleasure that arises from reading Ali Smith that accompanies her readers out into the world long after they’ve closed the covers of one of her books — it’s a pleasure that arises from the seriousness with which she treats joy. She’s well aware of the world’s sorrows and injustices, and writes about these movingly and with acuity, but if anything this enhances her celebration of love and wonder and art and friendship. 

She brings gravity to lightness and lightness to gravity as no other writer does. She is both a writer’s writer and a reader’s writer.”  

Kamila Shamsie, The Pleasure of Reading Prize 2021

Ali Smith is the best-selling author of novels, short story collections, plays and non-fiction books. Her fiction includes the dazzling Seasonal Quartet (Spring, Winter, Autumn, Summer), Public library and other stories, How to be both, Shire, Artful, Girl Meets Boy, The Accidental, The whole story and other stories, Hotel World, Like and Free Love.  Summer won The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2021.

Watch Ali Smith’s video on receiving The Pleasure of Reading Prize:

 Copyright Sarah Wood, 2021

The Pleasure of Reading Prize was shared between the winning author Ali Smith and the charitable Give a Book projects she chose to support. These were Books for First Nighters  in prisons and Breakfast Book Clubs for children.  

The Pleasure of Reading Prize judges:    

  • Lady Antonia Fraser, CH, writer and biographer (Chair)  
  • Kamila Shamsie, FRSL, novelist and Bloomsbury author   
  • James  Naughtie, FRSE, radio and news presenter, host of BBC Radio 4’s Book Club  
  • Victoria Gray, Executive Director of Give a Book  
  • Abdulrazak  Gurnah, FRSL, novelist and Bloomsbury author 

About The Pleasure of Reading Prize

Give a Book is a reading for pleasure charity, and this prize is a way to combine our commitment to authors with our charitable mission. 

The annual prize of £10,000 is sponsored by Bloomsbury Publishing and generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The Pleasure of Reading Prize is shared between the winning author and a charitable Give a Book project of their choice, which could be a prison, a school, or another project where reading for pleasure can make a real difference. 

See all the information about The Pleasure of Reading Prize here.