It is awards season in the world of Literature. Last week, amongst the other Nobel prizes that were announced [read more about them here], two were awarded for Literature – one for 2018 and the other for 2019. This happened because last year, there was a committee member who was accused in a #metoo scandal and so no award was given.
The recipients were:
For 2018 – The Polish novelist and activist Olga Tokarczuk
For 2019 -Austrian author Peter Handke
Olga Tokarczuk is an activist and writer. Already famous in Poland, she became internationally popular when she won the 2018 Booker International prize for her novel, Flights.
Peter Handke was a much-debated choice for the Nobel. His mother’s family trace back to Slovenia, and he had courted controversy when he spoke at the funeral of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milošević. While the Nobel committee did admit that Handke had “definitely made provocative, inappropriate and unclear statements on political issues”, they did think that his writing was very influential. The choice also seems strange because, in 2014, Handke had actually called for the Nobel to be abolished!
The Booker Prize for 2019 also had its share of excitement. The Booker Prize is given out for the best original novel in the English language. This year, it was a tie between Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other.
While the Booker had been awarded to two authors before, the rules changed in 1993 to allow only one winner. The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated in an interview that after hours and hours of discussion, the judges simply could not decide and chose to ignore the rules!
Margaret Atwood has won the prize before for The Blind Assassin (2000) and has been shortlisted four other times.
Bernardine Evaristo also created history as the first black woman to be awarded the Booker Prize.
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.