Booker Prize 2019

Booker Prize 2019: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo share the honour

October 15, 2019

For the Booker Prize 2019, the judges have broken the rules and named both Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo as winners of the prize on Monday, October 14. While Atwood won for “The Testaments”, Evaristo was awarded for “Girl, Woman, Other”.

The Booker Prize has been shared only twice before, although that was before the early 1990s. After this year, the rules were changed to forbid sharing the prize but it has been broken this year. Peter Florence, chair of this year’s judges, announced in a statement, “We found that there were two novels that we desperately wanted to win this year’s prize.”

For Atwood, a 79-year-old Canadian writer, this is her second Booker Prize win. Previously, she won in 2000 for “The Blind Assassin”. In the prize’s 50-year history, she is only the fourth author to have won the honour twice. Over the years, several of her novels have been shortlisted including “The Handmaid’s Tale”,  which is considered as one of the greatest dystopian novels of the modern era. 

“The Testaments” is a sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” where  Atwood “opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.”

On the other hand, Evaristo, a 60-year-old Anglo-Nigerian, became the first black woman to win the prize since it’s inception in 1969. She has also published essays and written for BBC radio. “Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years,” read the website.

Recommended: Irish author Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize 2018

The winner of the prize is chosen by a panel of five judges and this year, it included Peter Florence (chair), Afua Hirsch, Liz Calder, Xiaolu Guo and Joanna MacGregor. The prize is worth about $63,000 and recognises the best novel written in English and published in the U.K. and Ireland.

Other shortlisted authors included former Booker prize winner Salman Rushdie for “Quichotte” and the Turkish-British writer Elif Shafak for her Istanbul-set story “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”,  Lucy Ellmann for “Ducks, Newburyport”,  and Chigozie Obioma for “An Orchestra of Minorities. 

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