Ali Smith has won the inaugural Pleasure of Reading Prize, in recognition of her body of work.
The prize, sponsored by Bloomsbury Publishing, was launched in May by the charity Give a Book to mark its 10th anniversary and celebrates an author writing in English. The £10,000 prize money will be split equally between Smith and a Give a Book charitable project of her choosing. The prize is also supported by the the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
Inaugural judges for the prize were chair Lady Antonia Fraser, Kamila Shamsie, James Naughtie, executive director of Give a Book Victoria Gray, and author Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Smith's fiction includes the Seasonal Quartet, published by Hamish Hamilton, and she recently won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction with Summer.
“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," said Shamsie. "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."