For the first time in the last three decades, the Booker Prize has been awarded to joint winners, Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo. The rules of the literary award have been violated this year by the judges when they selected the first joint winners after 1992 when Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth won the prize together.

Bernardine Evaristo has become not only the first black woman but also the first black British author to have won the prize since its inception in 1969.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Booker Prize is a literary prize which is awarded each year for the best original novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom.
  • From their shortlist of six, the judges were unable to select a single name and so they awarded it jointly.
  • Atwood’s The Testaments, a follow-up to her dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, and Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, which is told in the voices of 12 different characters, mostly black women, were selected by the judges for the prize.
  • Bernardine Evaristo has become the first black woman to win the prize after it began in 1969. 

Read More: Man Booker Prize 2019: Four Of The Six Finalists Are Women

At 79, Margaret Atwood Is The Oldest Winner Of The Prize

At the age of 79, Margaret Atwood is the oldest winner of the prize. Atwood said after the ceremony at London’s Guildhall: “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. I’m not the jury. I have been on a jury that split the prize and I understand the predicament. I get it … they should have split it 13 ways but unfortunately, that’s not how it goes.”

Booker prize was last split in 1962 when Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth jointly won the prize.

Atwood’s longtime partner, Canadian author Graeme Gibson passed away recently. When asked about the death of her partner, she says, “Do you think that is in good taste? It is the best of times and it is the worst of times. If you’re really wondering what I am doing here, it is much better for me to be on the road right now, surrounded by lots of people and talking about other things”.

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Bernardine Evaristo Is The First Black Woman To Have Been Awarded The Prize

Evaristo became not only the first black woman but also the first black British author to have won the prize since its inception in 1969. Evaristo said, “I’m just so delighted to have won the prize. Yes, I am sharing it with an amazing writer. But I am not thinking about sharing it, I am thinking about the fact that I am here and that’s 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.”

According to The Guardian, The chair of judges, Peter Florence, says,” We tried voting, but that didn’t work.”

Booker prize was last split in 1962 when Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth jointly won the prize. Post this, the rules were changed and the prize had to be strictly awarded to a single person and was not to be withheld. Florence revealed the jury has been put under pressure to have one winner. “Our consensus was that it was our decision to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners,” he said. “These are two books we started not wanting to give up and the more we talked about them the more we treasured both of them and wanted them both as winners … We couldn’t separate them.”

Florence added, “I hope both winning authors will accept this as a mark of respect to two books.”

Picture Credit- BBC

Read More: Tayari Jones’ Novel Wins Women’s Prize For Fiction

 

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