PROLIFIC writer Margaret Atwood, who boasts legions of fans across the world, has become the oldest Booker Prize winner at 79 for her “beautiful” thriller, The Testaments.
Aside from being the second woman to win the Booker twice, who is Atwood and what are her best books?
Who is Margaret Atwood?
Margaret Atwood, who turns 80 in November, is the grande-dame of Canadian literature. She won the Booker Prize in 2000 for “The Blind Assassin”.
And tonight has seen Booker Prize judges rebelling against the rules and splitting the prestigious literary award between Atwood’s The Testaments and British author Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.
The authors jointly triumphed following a shock decision to divide the £50,000 prize, despite rules forbidding this.
Final deliberations took five hours, with judges repeatedly told they were not allowed to split the prize.
So, in a “revolutionary gesture”, they “staged a sit-in”, according to organisers, until their decision was accepted.
The two winners were announced at the Guildhall in London on Monday, where chairman of the jury Peter Florence said of the literary revolt: “The more we talked about them, the more we treasured them and wanted them both as winners.
“There are things they shared. They are both fully engaged novels. They address the world today.”
What are Atwood’s best books?
A prolific writer, Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.
Among her lengthy list of other best-selling books is feminist dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale, which presents a totalitarian future in the state of Gilead.
In it, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude as “handmaids” to repopulate a world facing environmental disaster.
Women are banned from reading and writing, have their children taken away from them, and are forced into sexual servitude by a patriarchal dictatorship.
The novel – first published in 1985 – was made into an award-winning television series in 2017.
Atwood said a deterioration in women’s rights in some parts of the world, including in the US, prompted her to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Testaments was published this year, and won rave reviews.
After jointly scooping the literary world’s top award, the Booker Prize, chairman Peter Florence praised The Testaments as “a savage and beautiful novel that speaks to us today”.
Atwood said she had not planned a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, but real-life political events, including moves to limit women’s reproductive rights, led her to reconsider.
Oryx and Crake, published in 2003, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
Part of The MaddAddam Trilogy, Oryx and Crake is a love story and a compelling vision of the future, hailed by The Washington Post as “majestic… keeps us on the edges of our seats”.
Atwood’s myriad other top novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize, along with Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy.