Jury for Booker Prize 2019 flouted rules a declared a joint winner: Margaret Atwood for The Testament and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other. As per the Booker rules, the prize cannot be divided but the judges “couldn’t separate” Atwood’s ‘The Testament’ and ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Evaristo. Peter Florence, the chair of the five-member judging panel, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.” This is the third time that the award has been presented to two authors together. In 1974, Nadine Gordimer had won for The Conservationist along with Stanley Middleton for Holiday, and in 1992 by Michael Ondaatje had received the prestigious honour for The English Patient with Barry Unsworth for Sacred Hunger.
With this, Evaristo becomes the first Black woman to win this honour. Atwood, on the other hand, becomes the second female author after Hilary Mantel to win it twice. The Canadian author had won a Booker for Blind Assassin in 2000. The Testament was one of the most anticipated books of this year and was wrapped in tight security. Except for the Booker judges and few of her associates, no one could lay their hands on it.
Commenting on the palpable anticipation, The Guardian literary critic Johanna Thomas-Corr had written, “[t]he hoopla around the launch of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments is more reminiscent of the unveiling of an iPhone or something Pokémon-related than that of a mere book.” On September 9, the author will read out some passages from it in the evening for a select gathering of 400-odd people. They will then read it for themselves. It is published by McClelland & Stewart.
It was ultimately all worth it as critics and readers extolled the book for its vivid imagination and hyper cognisance of the times we are living in.