Canadian Margaret Atwood co-winner of the Booker Prize

The Booker Prize, a prestigious British literary prize, was awarded Monday evening to Canadian writers Margaret Atwood and Anglo-Nigerian Bernardine Evaristo, respectively for “The Testaments” and “Girl, Woman, Other”, devoted to the best works of fiction in English of the ‘year.

Already crowned 19 years ago, the Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood is this time rewarded for “The Testaments” (“The Testaments”), the highly anticipated sequel to “The Scarlet Handmaid” (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), dystopia terrifying misogynist who has established herself as a true feminist manifesto in the era of the #MeToo movement.

The book “The Scarlet Handmaid”, published in 1985, became a hit TV series in 2017 that boosted sales of the novel, the English edition of which reached eight million copies worldwide.

Often cited for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Margaret Atwood, 79, already won the Booker Prize in 2000 for her historical novel “The Blind Killer”.

“I’m very surprised, I would have thought I was too old,” reacted Margaret Atwood, who wore a badge from the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion.

The 2019 Booker Prize was also awarded to the Anglo-Nigerian Bernardine Evaristo for “Girl, Woman, Other” (not translated into French), a chronicle of the life of black families in Great Britain.

“I am the first black woman to win this prize,” reacted Bernardine Evaristo, 60, who considered it “incredible” to share the prize with a “legend” such as Margaret Atwood.

Bernardine Evaristo’s novel is divided into as many chapters as characters, mainly black women from several backgrounds and generations, against the backdrop of a permanent questioning of color and racism, in the relationship to culture, sex. From Barbados to Nigeria, all the protagonists find themselves in London with a family bond or friendship or esteem.

This is the third time since its creation 50 years ago that the prize crowns two books simultaneously, after 1974 and 1997. The rules have since evolved, preventing such a configuration in principle, but according to the president of the jury Peter Florence, “ the situation demanded to choose these two books”.

Launched in 1969, the Booker Prize rewards each year the author of the “best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom” of 50,000 books that will be shared between the two winners.

The two writers said they were delighted to share the prize. Bernardine Evaristo explained that this reward would be used to repay her loan, Margaret Atwood indicating that she would donate it to charity.

Last year, writer Anna Burns was the first Northern Irish woman to win the prize, for her novel ‘Milkman’.

Among the six finalists selected this year were four women.

The American Lucy Ellmann was selected for “Ducks, Newburyport”, a 1000-page novel-river built around the monologue of a housewife from Ohio, declined in one sentence almost without interruption.

Elif Shafak, Turkey’s most widely read writer, was in the running with ’10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World’, about the memories of a prostitute in Istanbul’s slums.

Winner of the prestigious prize too, in 1981 for “The Midnight Children”, Salman Rushdie, 72, was selected for “Quixote”, a modern version of the picaresque epic of Cervantes’ hero transposed to America.

Finally, the Nigerian Chigozie Obioma competed with “The Orchestra of Minorities” (“An Orchestra of Minorities”), dedicated to a chicken farmer in a small town in Nigeria. It is “a heart-pounding tale of Odyssian proportions,” according to jury member Afua Hirsch. The author had already been selected in 2015.

Until 2013, the Booker Prize was reserved for nationals of Commonwealth States, before opening the following year to other English-speaking countries.

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Canadian Margaret Atwood co-winner of the Booker Prize