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Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood win the 2019 Booker Price for Fiction

Margaret E. Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both been announced as the winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, one of the most coveted awards in literature.

The Booker Prize for Fiction is awarded to the best original novel (as chosen by the judges) written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom. The Booker Prize comes £50,000.00 price award.

Atwood won the award for her book, The Testaments, a follow-up to her dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, while  Evaristo was picked for her book, Girl, Woman, Other, told in the voices of 12 different characters, mostly black women.

Their win comes after the judges rebelled against the one-winner-only rule according to the New York Times. The rule was made in 1993 that only one author could win the prize. Gordimer and Stanley Middleton in 1974 and to Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth in 1992 had jointly won the award previously.

Since the 1993 rule, this is the first time that two authors have been announced as joint-winners. Evarist and Atwood will share the £50,000 prize money.

Their win also means that Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma missed out on winning the £50,000 price money. Chigozie Obioma’s book, An Orchestra of Minorities was shortlisted alongside five others.

In winning the award, both Evaristo and Arwood made history as the third co-winners of the award. In addition, Bernardine Evaristo also made history as the first black woman to win the prestigious literary award since its inception in 1969. Margaret Atwood, at age 79, on the other hand, also made history as the oldest person to win the award. Atwood had previously won the Booker Prize in Atwood has won the Booker Prize in 2000 for her book, The Blind Assassin. She had also been previously shortlisted four other times for the following books: The Handmaid’s Tale (1986), Cat’s Eye (1989), Alias Grace (1996) and Oryx and Crake (2003).

Asked about the joint win, Atwood says: “It would have been quite embarrassing for a person of my age and stage to have won the whole thing and thereby hinder a person in an earlier stage of their career from going through that door. I really would have been embarrassed, trust me on that.

Evaristo says she’s “so delighted to have won the prize.” For her, it’s not about sharing the prize but about the winning, which is “an incredible thing considering what the prize has meant to me and my literary life, and the fact that it felt so unattainable for decades.”

The three other authors who missed out were Elif Shafak (10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World), Sir Salman Rushdie (Quichotte), and Lucy Ellmann(Ducks, Newburyport).

Congratulations to Margaret E. Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo on their historic win!


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