Margaret Atwood became the second woman to have won the Booker twice, after first winning in 2000 with "The Blind Assassin". Her worldwide bestseller and opening story to "The Testaments", "The Handmaid's Tale", was shortlisted in 1986, as well as novels "Cat's Eye" (1989), "Alias Grace" (1996) and "Oryx and Crake" (2003). Accepting the award, Atwood said: "I'm very surprised. I thought I would have been too elderly. And I kind of don't need the attention so I'm very glad that you [Bernadine Evaristo] are getting some."

A dystopian story inspired by the world of today, "The Testaments" takes us into the fictional state of Gilead's inner workings, and after 15 years it is rotting from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge.

Described as "a rallying cry for activism that argues for the connectedness of societies and their peoples… " (The Guardian), the novel takes on a new form of hope than that of "The Handmaid's Tale". Others have noted that while it is "unflinching in depicting horror and showing how complicity enables the collapse of compassion, ‘The Testaments' is also a clarion call to hope, resistance and activism" (iNews).

Bernardine Evaristo also became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, which she acknowledged in her acceptance speech with her hope that the "honour doesn't last too long". Her "Girl, Woman, Other" follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different people in Britain, predominantly female and black. Aged 19 to 93, they span a variety of cultural backgrounds, sexualities, classes and occupations as they tell the stories of themselves, their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

The book has been described as "a triumphantly wide-ranging novel… a big, bold, sexy book that cracks open a world that needs to be known" (Sunday Times); and "the intermingling stories of generations of black British women told in a gloriously rich and readable free verse, [which] will surely be seen as a landmark in British fiction" (The Guardian).

In addition to her writing achievements, Evaristo has founded several successful initiatives as a literary activist for inclusion. They include Spread the Word, a writer development agency; The Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017); and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize.

Becky Hardie, Deputy Publishing Director at Chatto & Windus, celebrated Atwood's win: "Margaret Atwood launched ‘The Testaments' here in London on the day our Parliament was prorogued and the book was instantly adopted as a potent political symbol. This is what literature is for, and it feels so absolutely right that this book and author have won this important prize this year. We couldn't be happier or prouder to have been part of ‘The Testaments' phenomenon."

Evaristo's editor Simon Prosser, Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton, added: "What an extraordinary and happy moment – for Bernardine, for her work, for us and for black British writing. Uniquely talented, with a voice entirely her own, Bernardine has been a vital, revelatory and joyful presence in British fiction for over two decades. To see her work celebrated in this way, by this prize, could not be more delightful or more meaningful. Brava, Bernardine!"

Fellow Penguin Random House authors Elif Shafak and Salman Rushdie were also shortlisted for the prize with "10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World" and "Quichotte" respectively. The shortlist was completed with "Ducks, Newburyport" by Lucy Ellmann (Galley Beggar Press) and "An Orchestra of Minorities" by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown).

About the Booker Prize

First awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English. This is the sixth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK. Each of the shortlisted authors receive £2500 and the winner receives a further £50,000.

This year's prize was judged by founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.

For more information, visit the Booker Prize website.

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