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In a ceremony today at Windsor Castle, the queen presented Margaret Atwood with a rare honor usually reserved for British citizens but occasionally bestowed upon those from the Commonwealths (she is only the third Canadian on the list).
Atwood becomes one of only 62 current holders of the Order of the Companions of Honour, which is awarded for extraordinary achievement in the arts, literature, science, and politics.
Margaret Atwood’s novel The Testaments, the long-awaited followup to 1985’s The Handmaid’s Tale, has won the 2019 Booker Prize. The prize is split with British writer Bernardine Evaristo for her lively feminist work, an eclectic book the author calls “fusion fiction” called Girl, Woman, Other. Atwood and Evaristo will share the £50,000 prize.
Both are are gracious in sharing the prize:
“It would have been quite embarrassing for a person of my age and stage to have won the whole thing and thereby hinder a person in an earlier stage of their career from going through that door,” said Atwood.
Evaristo said, “I’m just so delighted to have won the prize. Yes, I am sharing it with an amazing writer. But I am not thinking about sharing it; I am thinking about the fact that I am here and that’s an incredible thing considering what the prize has meant to me and my literary life, and the fact that it felt so unattainable for decades.”
After a tie in 1992, Booker changed its rules to prevent another tie from occurring, but after deliberations went on for five hours, judges “essentially staged a sit-in in the judging room.” According to Chairman Peter Florence, “Our consensus was that it was our decision to flout the rules,” he said. “I think laws are inviolable and rules are adaptable to the circumstance.”
This is Atwood’s second Booker; she won in 2000 for The Blind Assassin. Evaristo is the first black woman to win the Booker. “I hope that honor doesn’t last too long,” she said in her acceptance speech.
A note about The Booker Prize:
The Booker is the most prestigious British literary award and comes with a handsome prize of £50,000. The prize was originally known as the Booker–McConnell Prize, when the Booker–McConnell company began sponsoring the prize in 1969. Later it became known as simply the Booker Prize. It was previously awarded to a full-length novel written in English by an author from the Commonwealth of Nations or Ireland, but now can be awarded to any English language novel published in the UK. As of June 1, 2019, the Booker Prize is now sponsored by the Crankstart Foundation, of California not the Man Group as it was for the past 18 years (when it was referred to as the Man Booker Prize), and is known again as simply the Booker Prize.
The excitement builds as thirteen shrinks to six! The long list for the Booker prize has been reduced to the six finalists, including Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which comes out a week from today (!!) and Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte (both authors have won the award previously, Atwood for The Blind Assassin in 2000 and Rushdie for Midnight’s Children in 1981).
The other finalists are Lucy Ellmann, Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, and Elif Shafak. Information about these books can be found at the NYT.
The winner will be announced Oct. 14 at a ceremony in London and will receive a prize of £50,000 (NYT estimates $61,000 USD today).
Margaret Atwood won the Booker Prize in 2000 for The Blind Assassin and is in the running again for the prize for her upcoming novel The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which will be released on September 10. Atwood has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, first for The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986, when she lost out to Kingsley Amis, and most recently in 2003 for Oryx and Crake.
The Guardian reports that 13 finalists were chosen among 131 novels for the longlist. Previous winner Salman Rushdie is also on the longlist (Rushdie won in 1981 for Midnight’s Children). Among the other eleven are the American-born Lucy Ellmann (who moved to England as a teenager), English writer Jeanette Winterson, Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma, and Irish author Kevin Barry.
According to the New York Times, “a ferocious nondisclosure agreement” prevented the prize’s judges from revealing any of the plot of The Testaments, but they did say it is “terrifying and exhilarating.”
A note about The Booker Prize:
The Booker is the most prestigious British literary award and comes with a handsome prize of £50,000. The prize was originally known as the Booker–McConnell Prize, when the Booker–McConnell company began sponsoring the prize in 1969. Later it became known as simply the Booker Prize. It was previously awarded to a full-length novel written in English by an author from the Commonwealth of Nations or Ireland. but now can be awarded to any English language novel published in the UK. As of June 1, 2019, the Booker Prize is now sponsored by the Crankstart Foundation of California not the Man Group as it was for the past 18 years (when it was referred to as the Man Booker Prize), and is known again as simply the Booker Prize.
Margaret Atwood will receive yet another prestigious prize, this one symbolizing her place not just as one of the most treasured and visionary writers of our time, but as an activist and environmentalist as well. This honor, the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship, was established by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship in 2016 and is to be awarded each year to a leader who “has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the societal ideals of belonging, tolerance, and respect.”
In a press statement, former governor-general and prize namesake Adrienne Clarkson said, “We want to honour this remarkable citizen of Canada for all she has done in her personal and professional life to make us aware that we are citizens of a country like Canada and a planet that is our precious Earth. In her brilliant writing career and her personal activism locally, nationally, and internationally, she is a dynamic force in the world today.”
Atwood will be presented with the prize on September 26 at the closing event of 6 Degrees Toronto, “a three-day conversation on citizenship and inclusion.” Ticket and organization information can be found here. Read more about the prize here.
Margaret Atwood will receive a Hay Festival Medal for Prose for “a lifetime of ingenious and visionary fiction” during the Hay Festival event in Hay-on-Wye, Wales scheduled May 24 – June 3, 2018.
Margaret Atwood will receive the Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute for “her commitments to the growth of the Canadian media industry.” The awards will be held March 11, 2018 in Toronto. For more information and other Canadians expected to receive awards that day, see the announcement or this article in Global News.
The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is a national, non-profit, professional association dedicated to the promotion, recognition, and celebration of exceptional achievements in Canadian film, television, and digital media. Unifying industry professionals across Canada, the Academy is a vital force representing all screen-based industries.
The 2017 PEN Center USA Literary Awards Festival hosted by the hilarious Nick Offerman recently took place in Los Angeles.
At the event, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Margaret Atwood, saying, “When Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic a hundred years ago, she said ‘No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.’ And those words ring just as true today and they’re the heart of everything this next honoree writes, says, and does.”
When Atwood accepted the award, the left the audience with these questions: “What is the world we live in? What is the world we want to live in?”
Read the full story at Variety.