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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 Midwest Modern Language Association 61st annual convention will be held in Chicago November 14-17, 2019. The Margaret Atwood Society-sponsored panel will be Saturday the 16th at 1:00. The title is Duality & Doubles in the Novels of Margaret Atwood. The Treasurer of the Society, Denise Du Vernay, is chairing the panel, and Society President Karma Waltonen is presenting a paper on Alias Grace. Three other member presenters will be discussing The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddam trilogy.
Registration and location information can be found here.
From Fathom events:
On Tuesday, September 10, the wait will be over . . . The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, will be revealed. The momentous literary event will be celebrated with an exclusive cinema event, captured live and broadcast later that same evening — as Fane Productions present an evening with the Canadian novelist, poet, literary critic, and inventor.
The publication of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 and the current, Emmy Award-winning television series have created a cultural phenomenon, as handmaids have become a symbol of women’s rights and a protest against misogyny and oppression. Atwood will be interviewed by broadcaster and author Samira Ahmed in a conversation spanning the length of Atwood’s remarkable career, her diverse range of works, and why she has returned to her seminal handmaid story, 34 years later.
“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood
With exclusive readings from the new book by special guests Ann Dowd, Lily James, and Sally Hawkins, this will be an unmissable and intimate event with Atwood, spotlighting her signature insight, humor and intellect.
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.
Variety is reporting that the rights to Margaret Atwood’s first novel, 1969’s The Edible Woman, have been acquired by Entertainment One. Variety reports that eOne (On the Basis of Sex, Designated Survivor) will hold worldwide rights to the series in addition to producing it. Francine Zuckerman of Z Films and Karen Shaw of Quarterlife Crisis Productions will serve as executive producers.
If you’re like us, you’ve been dying to know what happens to Offred after the book leaves off and how future historians got a hold of Offred’s story. After 35 we will finally get some answers as a sequel is coming. It will be called The Testaments and will take place 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale left off. Atwood tells us that the story will be told by three female characters, and the publisher promises that “the book answers the question that has tantalized readers for decades: What happens to Offred?”
Read more at NPR.
Also, cheers to Stephen Colbert for his quip: “Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, and Donald Trump is almost finished with the prequel.”
Every entering freshman to Northwestern University this fall will receive their own copy of The Handmaid’s Tale and will be exposed to a year full of events related to the book. (For context, in the 2017-2018 school year, there were 91 different events on campus related to the One Book selection– this year promises to be as robust, if not more so!)
Atwood will be at Northwestern to give keynote talks on October 30, 2018, a talk each on both the Chicago and the Evanston campuses, where One Book Faculty Chair Helen Thompson also plans to ask Atwood questions about “The Handmaid’s Tale, its recent television adaptation, and its centrality to the current cultural moment.”
For more information on Northwestern’s One Book program, see its webpage here.