It seems fitting that the jury deliberations for the Booker Prize would get all dramatic. Told repeatedly that they could pick only one winner of the fiction prize, the five jurors refused to choose between Margaret Atwood's The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other. So, while environmental protesters demonstrated nearby in London, the jury made its stand and "essentially staged a sit-in in the judging room," one official said. Negotiations went on for five hours, the AP reports. "Our consensus was that it was our decision to flout the rules," the jury chairman said. The authors will split the $63,000 prize after the jury announced, per the Washington Post, "We found that there were two novels that we desperately wanted to win this year's prize."
The winners took the stage together. Atwood, 79, who won once before, said she didn't need the attention and was happy to see Evaristo receiving recognition. "It would have been quite embarrassing for me, as a good Canadian, if I had been alone here," Atwood said. The Testaments is a follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale. The winning books are both "wonderfully compelling page-turning thrillers," the chairman said. Evaristo, 60, is an Anglo-Nigerian writer who lives in London and the first black woman to win the prize. Girl, Woman, Other follows 12 characters in Britain to tell black women's stories. It will be published Dec. 3 in the US. There have been two other ties since the Booker Prize began in 1969, per the Guardian, and officials said the rules won't be changed because there was a third. "It was a rebellious gesture," the Booker director said, "but it was … a generous one." (Read more Booker Prize stories.)