Naomi Alderman has won the Baileys Prize for Fiction for her fourth novel, The Power.
The announcement was made at a glitzy ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall tonight.
Formerly the Orange Prize, the award is considered the most prestigious for fiction written by a woman.
Ms Alderman — whose debut novel Disobedience was set within the Hendon Orthodox community — was chosen ahead of five other shortlisted works, including The Dark Circle by fellow Jewish novelist Linda Grant.
Ms Alderman said: “The women’s movement has made my life possible. Feminist writing has shown me purpose. My book shows what women can do – and we have only just begun. Everybody is going to be Wonder Woman!
“The women’s movement is more vital to me than running water. Support of other women has meant more to me than electricity.”
The Power is a futuristic tale following four women who discover that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonising pain and even death.
The JC reviewed the book as “a dynamic, fast-moving, super–realistic, ultra-graphic work packed with appalling violence”.
Ms Alderman said: “It’s a novel of ideas. What would happen if women had the power to cause pain and destruction? Do we really believe that women are naturally peaceful and nurturing? How much of gender is in our expectations of violence?
“But it’s also a thriller. In pursuit of power, each of the main characters will eventually come into conflict with the others and they’re each a force to be reckoned with.”
Among many previous accolades for her work, Ms Alderman won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.
She was selected for Granta’s once-a-decade list of best young British novelists and Waterstones’ Writers for the Future.
The London-based writer also presents Science Stories on Radio 4 and is professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University.
She is the co-creator and lead writer of the bestselling smartphone audio adventure app and book Zombies, Run!
Tessa Ross, chair of judges, said: “The judges and I were thrilled to make this decision.
“We debated this wonderful shortlist for many hours but kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.”