In a shock result, judges have flouted the rules for the Booker Prize, awarding the prize jointly to two authors. The 2019 Booker Prize winners are Margaret Atwood, who will share the prize and the £50,000 prize money with Bernadine Evaristo.
Margaret Atwood becomes the oldest author to ever win the prize, at 79, and Evaristo is also breaking records, becoming the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. The pair stood arm in arm on the stage after being announced as the joint winners with Atwood stating “I would have thought I would have been too elderly, and I kind of don’t need the attention, so I’m very glad that you’re getting some. It would have been quite embarrassing for me… if I had been alone here, so I’m very pleased that you’re here too.”
Since 1992 there has only been one Booker Prize winner announced each year after organisers declared that judges were not allowed to pick two winners again. But after five hours of deliberations, judges said they were happy to flout the rules as they couldn’t separate the two works.
Atwood was previously shortlisted for the prize 33 years ago for The Handmaid’s Tale but didn’t win. 19 years ago, she won the prize for The Blind Assassin, making this her second Booker win, and for the follow on novel to her first nomination too! The Testaments picks up the story of Gilead 15 years on, and while back then it looked like science fiction, today the story is much more politically urgent.
Evaristo was born in London in 1959 and this is her first nomination for the prize. She won for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, her eighth novel. The book gives a chapter to the lives of 12 intertwining characters, mostly black British women, and spans more than 100 years. Evaristo stated that “We black British women know that if we don’t write ourselves into literature no-one else will,”, while judges said “They give a wonderful spectrum of black British women today.
Congratulations to both winners, and if you’d like to read the two books, links below.