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Two Winners Announced for 2019 Booker Prize

atwood and evaristo
16/10/2019

Photo from cbc.ca

This week, for only the third time in the history of the Prize, the Booker was awarded to two books at once: The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

This decision has been somewhat controversial, particularly since the Prize’s rule were re-written in 1992 specifically to prevent splitting the award. The judges say they were simply unable to choose between the two books, even up to the last hours before the announcement, and that both titles were equally exceptional among the list of excellent works, with equally vital relevance in the year 2019.

While Atwood and Evaristo have been gracious co-winners, this has not been a universally popular decision. Of course, choosing a winner from a group of excellent books is always a subjective judgement, based on the personalities, tastes and experiences of the judges as well as the cultural context in which they are judging, and there will always be those who disagree with the decision of the panel. In this case, some critics are questioning why the very first black woman ever to be awarded the Booker Prize must share it; others maintain that to choose two winners is essentially refusing to make a choice, refusing to do their duty as judges. If you'd like to read more on this controversy, this Guardian article is a great place to start: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/14/booker-prize-judges-break-the-rules-and-insist-on-joint-winners

The Testaments, which came out in September, is already breaking Canadian sales records but Evaristo’s book hasn’t yet been released in Canada, so we’ll all have to wait until December to compare the two ourselves! In the meantime, all the other shortlisted titles are available at OPL.