Months after authors Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo jointly won the 2019 Booker Prize, a BBC news presenter has caused controversy by referring to Evaristo as "another author".
In October, Bernardine became the first woman of colour to win the prestigious literary award since its inception in 1969. The joint win also came for the first time since 1992 after the jury "flouted" Booker rules that forbade the sharing of the prize after claiming they "couldn't separate" Atwood's 'The Testament' and 'Girl, Woman, Other' by Evaristo.
However, on Tuesday's coverage of the Turner Award, BBC's news presenter Shaun Ley, while referring to Evaristo, called her "another writer" instead of addressing her by name. "The Booker prize was shared by Margaret Atwood and another author", Ley said, causing instant outrage on social media and off it.
Evaristo herself pointed out the casual dismissal.by the journalist.
"The BBC described me yesterday as 'another author' apropos The Booker Prizes 2019. How quickly and casually they have removed my name from history - the first black woman to win it. This is what we've always been up against, folks," she wrote on Twitter while sharing a video of Ley.
Social media has been up in arms against the mishap with many finding it ironic that Evaristo, who won the Booker for a novel based on the experience of discrimination and otherness experienced by women of colour in Britain, had to face such dismissal despite winning one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world.
Horribly ironic considering your winning novel - Girl, Woman, OTHER - portraying women of colour fighting to stamp their imprint on the world.— Señorita Felicidad #FBPE 🇬🇧🇳🇬🇪🇺🌐 (@PeddyPK) December 4, 2019
Was that part scripted, or was he ad libbing? Either way, @BBC this was truly shameful. He was ill-prepared & that was unprofessional.
The creation of 'other' is so easy for some people, not to give recognition. Being prejudiced is easier then being able to appreciate the creative potential of a great writer.— NEELKANTH PAN (@neelkanth_pan) December 4, 2019
Disgraceful. The name is BERNARDINE EVARISTO @BBC. Not ‘another author’ but one of the best we have and the first black woman to win the Booker Prize — a historic achievement completely erased here https://t.co/p8UgglTLkb— Simon Prosser (@HamishH1931) December 4, 2019
Awaiting your apology to Ms Bernardine Evaristo @BBCNews— Sara Collins (@mrsjaneymac) December 4, 2019
This is not a minor oversight. Bernardine’s victory is the story not the footnote. And quite frankly you should not have to be told this. Do better. https://t.co/Y0zHT8zTYh
Yet others brought up the older debate over whether the judges should have chosen two winners for the prize at all. At the time the award was announced, many felt that giving it to both Evaristo and Atwood, who is already a household name thanks to the critical and commercial success of The Handmaid's Tale. Many claimed that putting Bernardino on the same podium as Atwood was unfair to the former who was still making a name for herself among international masses.
And this is why the Booker judges - more so than the BBC - should hang their heads. By forcing Evaristo to share the prize with someone already global famous, they denied Evaristo her moment in the sun. https://t.co/1naKEATSth— Harry Wallop (@hwallop) December 4, 2019
BBC has since put out an apology for the incident, stating the "phrasing" was "unscripted" adding that they apologised for the offence caused.