Finalist, National Book Awards 2021 for Fiction

ISBN 9781594634499
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff (Chair) is a three-time National Book Award Finalist for Fiction. Her books include Fates and Furies, Florida, Matrix, and most recently, The Vaster Wilds. More about this author >

Award Years

Award Status

Award Categories


Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.

At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.


Judges Citation

Using the framework of the life of Marie de France in a 12th-century abbey, Lauren Groff masterfully uses all of her craft in Matrix to give us a fully realized vision of how women build worlds. In a daring evolution of narrative tone, Groff has managed the alchemy of a beautiful historical novel that somehow illuminates the possibilities of today and tomorrow.


Lauren Groff, 2021 National Book Awards Fiction Finalist, reads from MATRIX