The Man Booker Prize 2019 was declared on the 14th of October, Monday sparked numerous controversies. Unlike the nature and expectations of the award, the Booker Prize was jointly given to two novels. Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo won the prize for their novels, The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other, respectively. They will also split the £50,000 prize for their books.
The Booker is over half a century old; however, this year’s award could have been a legendary move by the jury but to no avail. The panel broke the ground rule of not splitting the prize by awarding it to two authors. The media and social media universe have lashed out at the jurists, calling their biasedness.
Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman to be chosen by the Booker in its long, often dark, and dramatic history, the news of the double win overshadowed the glory of the historic move.
The only two times when the Booker Prize had been split was back in 1974 and 1992. In 1974, the prize was divided between Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton; and in 1992, it was awarded to Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth.
Since then, the rules of the Booker Prize were altered so that the prize would not be divided or withheld. The Chair-of-judges Peter Florence and the panel, including Liz Calder, Xiaolu Guo, Afua Hirsch, and Joanna MacGregor, explicitly flouted these rules and changed the game itself.
The book world had a déjà vu as a similar occurrence that happened last week on the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Likewise, the award was split between two writers, Olga Tokarczuk for 2018 and Peter Handke for 2019.
Atwood, who is 79, is also the two times recipient of the Booker Prize back in 2000 for her novel The Blind Assassin. She has created a history of being the oldest winner and the fourth writer to win the award twice. The other three writers include the names of renowned authors like M Coetzee, Peter Carey, and Hilary Mantel.
The 13 books of the Man Booker prize winner 2019 longlist was announced on the 23rd of July, which was cut short to a shortlist of six on the 3rd of September.
The Man Booker Prize 2019 was initially known as the Booker–McConnell Prize. It was named after the company Booker, and McConnell Ltd started sponsoring the event in 1969. In the year 2002, the administration of the prize was handed over to the Booker Prize Foundation. The prize money bestowed with the Booker Prize was initially £21,000 and was consequently elevated to £50,000 in 2002. Following the sponsorship of the Man Group, making it one of the world’s most prolific literary prizes.
In 1970, Bernice Rubens was graced as the first woman to win the Booker Prize, for The Elected Member. The selection process for the victor of the prize starts with the establishment of an advisory committee, which comprises of a writer, two publishers, a librarian, a literary agent, a bookseller, and a chairperson elected by the Booker Prize Foundation.
The advisory committee later chooses the judging jury, the association of which replaces every year, although, in exceptional circumstances, a judge may be elected for the second time. Judges are selected from amongst leading writers, academics, literary critics, and leading public figures.
The prize has been conferred every year since 1969 to the choicest original full-length novel, penned in the English language. The novel must be written by a citizen of the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth of Nations. In 2014, it was unrolled for the first time to any literature published in the United Kingdom and written in (not translated into) the English language.
The Man Booker Prize 2018 was awarded to Anna Burns for Milkman, which was deemed as a difficult read by the judges. The “Golden Booker” Prize was awarded to Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, an exercise in nostalgia on Booker’s part.