The 2019 Booker Prize Makes History

October 15, 2019 | Book Buzz

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On October 14, 2019 while Canadians were celebrating, or recovering from, Thanksgiving, The Booker Prize made history by awarding the prize to a woman of colour for the first time. Bernardine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other is written from the perspectives of 12 primarily Black British women, straight, gay and non-binary, from different backgrounds whose lives intersect. The Booker Prize committee describes it as "[j]oyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible." The novel will be published in Canada on October 18, 2019. 

Girl woman other

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

This year's prize was awarded jointly to Evaristo and to Canadian Margaret Atwood for The Testaments. The Testaments is a sequel to Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. She is the first Canadian winner since Yann Martel won in 2002 for Life of Pi. Atwood previously won the award in 2000 for The Blind Assassin. 


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Ties are quite rare in the Prize's history. Since formed in 1969 there have only been two other ties: Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton were joint winners in 1974 and, in 1992, Michael  Ondatjee and Barry Unworth shared the prize. 


The other finalists for the prize were:

10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Ducks newburyport

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

Orchestra of minorities

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma


Quichotte by Salman Rushdie