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Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo named as joint winners of 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction

Atwood has been awarded for The Testaments and Evaristo has been awarded for Girl, Woman, Other.

pjimage Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo Source: PA Images

MARGARET ATWOOD AND Bernardine Evaristo have been named as joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction. 

Atwood has been awarded for her novel The Testaments and Evaristo has been awarded for Girl, Woman, Other. 

The 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction was open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.

The Booker Prize has been jointly awarded twice before, to Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton in 1974 and to Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth in 1992.

In 1993, the rules were changed so that only one author could win the prize.

This is the first time since then that two authors have been announced as joint-winners. The 2019 winners will share the £50,000 prize money.

It is the second time that Atwood has won the Booker Prize, having won in 2000 with The Blind Assassin. She has been shortlisted for four further books: The Handmaid’s Tale (1986), Cat’s Eye (1989), Alias Grace (1996) and Oryx and Crake (2003). 

Evaristo is the first black woman to be awarded the Booker Prize. Girl, Woman, Other is her eighth book of fiction, which she has written alongside essays, drama and writing for BBC radio.

Evaristo drew on aspects of the African diaspora, be it past, present, real or imagined, to inform Girl, Woman, Other.

“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,” Peter Florence, chair of the 2019 judges said.

Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, added: “Over an agonising five hours, the 2019 Booker Prize 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.”

Shortlist

Six authors had been shortlisted from 151 submitted books for the award last month. 

The six books shortlisted were:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada) - The Testaments
  • Ellmann (UK/USA) – Ducks, Newburyport
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK) - Girl, Woman, Other
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) - An Orchestra of Minorities
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India) - Quichotte
  • Elif Shafak (Turkey/UK) - 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Irish author Kevin Barry had made the longlist for the 2019 awards for his novel Night Boat to Tangier. However, he did not make the shortlist.

Barry was the only Irish author to make the longlist for the prestigious literary award this year, which was picked up by Northern Irish writer Anna Burns last year for her novel Milkman. 

Barry (50) is originally from Limerick and currently lives in Sligo. He has won multiple awards for his works of fiction. 

Night Boat to Tangier – described by the judges as a “rogue gem of a novel” – is a work of crime fiction that tells the story of two old Irish gangsters who discuss their past as they search for a missing daughter, while waiting for a boat in Tangier. 

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