It’s the season for literary prizes and hot on the heels of the Nobel Prize for Literature comes this year’s Booker Prize. Unusually, and in breach of their own rules, the committee decided to split the prize between Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during those discussions.
I’m an ardent admirer of Atwood (see reviews of Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale) but I’m not convinced The Testaments is amongst her best books. Sure, it’s a timely novel touching upon momentous issues such as totalitarianism, religious extremism and feminism, but the literary aspects of this book are by no means perfect. Atwood has won before, 19 years ago, for the The Blind Assassin.
Bernadine Evaristo is the first black woman to win the Booker (high time!) for Girl, Woman, Other, 12 intertwining stories about black women’s lives. It sounds like an energetic, different book and we’re reading it as I write. Watch this space!