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Newsflash: 2019 Booker Prize winners announced

This year’s Booker Prize has been announced in London today and for the first time in almost 30 years, the prize has been jointly awarded to two authors – Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernadine Evaristi for Girl, Woman, Other.

The judging panel (Peter Florence, Liz Calder, Xiaolu Guo, Afua Hirsch and Joanna MacGregor) said that The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other were “fully engaged novels, they are both linguistically inventive, they are adventurous in all kinds of ways. They address the world today and give us insights into it and create characters who resonate with us, and will resonate with us for ages”.

Evaristo’s win makes her the first black woman to win the Booker since it began in 1969 and the first black British author. At 79, Atwood becomes the prize’s oldest winner. The Canadian author previously won the Booker in 2000 for The Blind Assassin; she becomes the fourth author to have won the prize twice.

The pair
will split the literary award's £50,000 prize money equally.

Reviewsday: The Handmaid’s Tale

Originally published in 1985, 'The Handmaid's Tale' is the definition of dystopian literature. 'The Handmaid's Tale' takes place in what remains of near-future United States and is told in the first-person by Offred. Her name literally means of-Fred - women are named for the men who own them. These women serve as "handmaids" for military men and their infertile wives, existing only as maids and fertile wombs. Offred was selected as a handmaid for her proven ability to reproduce - before the events which brought about this dystopia Offred had a daughter. This is seen in periodic flashbacks throughout the text.

Offred tells her story in subdued language with little embellishment or emotion which sharply contrasts the horrifying tale of murder, rape and indoctrinated sexual submission.

It's a thought-provoking tale and a very enjoyable read, told in a clever manner with just enough mysteries left unsolved that you'll be mulling the book over long after you finish reading it. 'The Handmaid's Tale' is currently being released as a television series, so be sure to pick up the book and experience it as it was first written - it's a read you won't forget.

- Caitlin, QBD West Lakes

New Life for a Beloved Classic

When Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale was released in 1985, it was an immediate and visceral success. Thirty-two years later, the novel is even more terrifying and socially relevant today.

Set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian theocracy that has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale follows the story of Offred - a woman that is prized for her fertility in the same way horsebreeders value a winning horse. Offred is a Handmaid, a woman in indentured servitude to the Commander. She has one purpose only - to bear his healthy children (not as easy as one may think in this near future dystopia) and then to be assigned to her next household. But Offred is not a horse. she is a woman; she can remember a time before Gilead, her husband and young daughter, and perhaps more dangerously...she remembers her own name.

The Handmaid's Tale is a story of survival in the face of oppression, and the strength of the human condition despite all attempts to break it down. Readers today will no doubt identify just as strongly with Offred's plight as they did when the novel was first published. This is a must-read for any fan of thrilling dystopia, or someone just looking to remind themselves why our lives today are so precariously wonderful.

The Handmaid's Tale has just been adapted into a critically acclaimed HBO television series, but as always, there's nothing better than the book!

QBD Reviews: Oryx And Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx And Crake is unlike anything I have ever read. I'm honestly at a loss for words on how to even begin blogging about this title, but here goes:

Imagine our world in about 50-100 years time, if no-one cared enough to fight for it. Dozens upon dozens of extinct species, fresh food is almost just a memory, and genetic engineering has reached horrifying new heights (or should that be 'lows'?).

Now imagine this same world, but one generation older again. The world is empty of people, except for Snowman (known as Jimmy before the plague) and the innocent, perfectly-designed new humans known as The Children of Crake.

What on earth happened in those 30 years?

oryx-and-crakeThis is the story of Snowman, last surviving human, living his days in the wilderness amongst the now-feral genetically engineered animals and too-perfect Children of Crake. This is also the story of Jimmy, his childhood raised by a distant mother and scientist father, his obsessive love with the mysteriously enticing Oryx, and his continuous friendship with the brilliant and enigmatic Crake.

Atwood is able to flick between these two storylines with ease, and teases the reader with glimpses of the answers they're searching for, without revealing too much until the final, breathtaking chapters. How did Snowman survive? What happened to Oryx? And what on earth did Crake do??

This book is terrifyingly plausible, and immerses the reader in a world which could very well be waiting for us, but without attempting to preach environmentalism or morality. Oryx and Crake is gripping, horrifying, surprising, and quite frankly the most original story I have read in years. This is definitely one I will be thinking about for a long time to come!