Oct. 14 (UPI) -- In a rare break from tradition and going against its own rules, the 2019 Man Booker Prize was awarded Monday to two authors: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.
Atwood's The Testaments and Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other were selected from a shortlist of six books for the coveted prize in English literature and were chosen following a 10-month process, The Booker Prizes said in a statement.
The award had only been shared twice before in 1974 and 1992, and the rules were changed in 1993 to prevent the international recognition and the $63,000 in prize money from being split between two authors.
The Booker Prize Foundation said it "found it impossible" to pick only one of them to be its winner.
"On being told that it was definitely against the rules, the judges held a further discussion and chose to flout them," Booker Prize Foundation Literary Director Gaby Wood said in a statement. "They left the judging room happy and proud, their twin winners gesturing towards the six they would have wanted, had it been possible to split the prize any further."
The Testaments by Atwood, the 79-year-old Canadian author, is a sequel to her acclaimed dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale and picks up 15 years after the original story ends in the Republic of Gilead under a theocratic regime that is showing signs of decay.
"It is a savage and beautiful novel that speaks to us today with conviction and power," the judges said in a statement. "the bar is set unusually high for Atwood. She soars."
Girl, Woman, Other by Evaristo, 60, tells the contemporary story of 12 characters, most of whom are women, black and British, that is celebratory and vibrant.
"A must-read about modern Britain and womanhood," the judges said. "This is an impressive, fierce novel about the lives of black British families."
Other breaks from tradition this year is that Evaristo is the first black woman to win the prize since it was founded in 1969 and Atwood is only the fourth author to win the award twice. She was selected as the Booker Prize winner in 2000 for The Blind Assassin.
Atwood and Evaristo were announced as this year's joint award winners Monday during a ceremony at Guildhall in London, England.