The big question before this year’s Booker Prize announcement was whether Margaret Atwood’s thriller would win. On the night, what happened behind the scenes provided the greatest plot twist of all.
In a deliberate flouting of the rules, the jury decided to split the prize between two books, Atwood’s The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.
Told in no uncertain terms that the rulebook allowed only one winner, the chair of the judges, Peter Florence, refused to give way.
It culminated in a a bizarre press conference in which Florence announced the decision while the exasperated director of the prize, Gaby Wood, stood by.
“They have actively broken the rules. It’s not that we accommodated the jury, it’s that the jury actively chose to reject the rules,” explained Wood. “They effectively staged a sit-in in the judging room.”