Rules from 1993 waived as Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo win 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction
Noted writer Margaret Atwood and Anglo-Nigerian Bernardine Evaristo were on Monday night announced joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, waiving rules instituted in 1993 that ensured only one winner is decided every year.
Atwood, who last won the prize in 2000 for ‘The Blind Assassin’, won the 2019 prize for her ‘The Testaments’, while Evaristo, the first black woman to win the prize, was awarded for ‘Girl, Woman, Other’. They will share the £50,000 prize money.
Missing out on the prize was the 1981 winner Salman Rushdie, who was shortlisted for his new book, ‘Quichotte’.
Judges of the prize described Atwood’s book as “a savage and beautiful novel that speaks to us today with conviction and power. The bar is set unusually high for Atwood. She soars.” Evaristo’s book was described as a “must-read about modern Britain and womanhood”.
Peter Florence, chair of the judges, said: “This ten-month process has been a wild adventure. In the room today we talked for five hours about books we love. Two novels we cannot compromise on. They are both phenomenal books that will delight readers and will resonate for ages to come.”
Gaby Wood of the Booker Prize Foundation added: “Over an agonising five hours, the judges discussed all of the much-loved books on their shortlist, and found it impossible to single out one winner. They were not so much divided as unwilling to jettison any more when they finally got down to two, and asked if they might split the prize between them”.
“On being told that it was definitively against the rules, the judges held a further discussion and chose to flout them. They left the judging room happy and proud, their twin winners gesturing towards the six they would have wanted, had it been possible to split the prize any further.”