Margaret Atwood, author of The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other, are the joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize.
The judges, led by Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, were adamant in their decision to award the prize to both authors, despite rules explicitly saying this was not an option. "It was our decision to flout the rules. The more we talked about them, the more we found we loved them both so much we wanted them both to win." The two authors will split the £50,000 prize money.
Atwood's The Testaments, a sequel to her dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale, was widely anticipated to take the prize after it was shortlisted even before it was officially put on sale; it is already a bestseller in the U.K. and U.S. and likely to be one of the top-selling fiction titles of the year in America where it is published by Penguin Random House. Evaristo, whose book depicts the lives of several black women in contemporary Britain, will be published in the U.S. by Grove Press in December.
In comments made to BBC Radio on Tuesday morning, Atwood noted that she was pleased to be sharing the prize with Evaristo, who is the first black woman writer to win the Booker. "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," noted Evaristo, who pointed out that she was only one of four black women writers shortlisted in the prize's history and the only one to win. "I hope more black women win this prize," she added.