Author Joy Williams received the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during this year's Library of Congress National Book Festival in a prize ceremony held online.

One of the Library of Congress's most prestigious awards, the annual Prize for American fiction honors authors whose body of work has "told us something essential about the American experience."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected Williams from a list of more than 60 nominees from around the world.

In a statement Hayden said she is "pleased and honored to confer this prize on Joy Williams, in celebration of her almost half-century of extraordinary work." Williams's writing, she said, "can force us to reimagine how we see ourselves, how we understand each other—and how we relate to the natural world."

Williams is the author of four short story collections, two works of nonfiction, and five novels, including Harrow (Knopf), which was published earlier this month. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work has been published in journals such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Granta.

"This is a wonderful award and one that inspires such humility," Williams said in a statement. "the American story is wild, uncapturable and discomfiting, and our fiction—our literature—imposed to challenge and deeply change us as it becomes ever more inclusive and ecocentric."