Following on from my previous post about the Nobel Prize for literature choosing two controversial winners, I’m pleased to say that the Booker Prize has this year chosen two winners based solely on merit and literary prowess.
In doing so, the prize has been awarded to the first black woman in its history, Bernardine Evaristo, as well as the oldest winner in the prize’s history, Margret Atwood. Atwood won for the sequel to the revered The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, which was released in September, more than 33 years after the original was published in 1985. Evaristo won for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, a tale of a group of very different characters, predominantly black British women.
As well as being the oldest and first black woman to win, Atwood and Evaristo are also the first joint winners of the prize, which proves that it should definitely change in order to adapt to today’s growing literary market.
After all, this illustrious prize began in 1969, and since then it has hardly evolved. Whilst the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ might be said to apply to such a revered accolade, it could also be said that the Booker Prize needs to move with the times in order to remain relevant.
Whilst back then there were still as many books being written and published, there were many who would not have been able to get their work long or shortlisted due to racial prejudice, sexism, homophobia and other factors. Times have changed, and today’s progressive literary market, which is working hard to become truly inclusive, now has many books in it that need to be considered.
As such, it is my opinion that the Booker Prize ought to embrace the widening of its remit and the constantly growing literary market by creating a series of categories so that it can properly showcase the rich variety that today’s literary space has to offer.