Margaret Atwood And Bernardine Evaristo Share The Booker Prize

Two thirds of the authors on the 2019 shortlist were women.

Margaret Atwood And Bernardine Evaristo

by Elizabeth Bennett |
Updated on

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both been named the winners of the 2019 Booker Prize - as the judges broke their rules by declaring a tie. (The rules changed after the last time the literary prize was split in 1992.)

The pair will split the £50,000 for Atwood’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale (The Testaments) And Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. At 79, Atwood is the oldest winner of the prize and Evaristo is the first black woman to win.

When receiving the prize, Atwood joked, ’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.’

‘It means my work gets out there to a much wider audience around the world,’ Evaristo said on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. ‘There are lots of prizes which people from certain communities don't win, certainly black people don't win lots of literary awards. No one seems to notice, but it's really important.

‘A black woman has never won [the Booker before]. Only four black women have ever been shortlisted and there have been about 300 books shortlisted. Hopefully this signals a new direction for the Booker and the kind of judges they have. This year there were four women judges and one male. I hope more black women win this prize.'

Of the six authors up for the big award, four were women.

Atwood is one of two authors on the shortlist who have won the prize before: Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, was nominated for his novel Quichotte.

The other nominees were Lucy Ellmann, for her book Ducks, Newbury Port, Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other, Chigozie Obioma for his book An Orchestra of Minorities, and Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

The winner of the award, which comes with a £50,000 cash prize, will be announced at London's Guildhall, with the announcement traditionally leading to an enormous spike in sales.

The judging panel, chaired by Natalie Haynes, is made up of Afua Hirsch, Liz Calder, Xiaolu Guo and Joanna MacGregor.

READ MORE: The books on the longlist for 2019's Women's Prize for Fiction

READ MORE: Margaret Atwood returns withThe Testaments

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