Hamish Hamilton recently sent me a review copy of Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and I feel like my whole world has been shifted. She’s the writer I’ve been searching for. Her work speaks to my type of humour, sarcasm and wit.
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
What stayed with me was Bernardine Evaristo’s style of writing. The sentences in the book start with small letters and there are no full stops. No Full Stops! If you have any level of OCD, you might struggle with this a little, but it will be so worth it.
Now that I’ve found my literary godmother,Ii decided to do a little digging and I found very interesting things.
My Top Bernardine Evaristo Facts
1- Literary playfulness is her superpower: In The Emperor’s Babe, a novel narrated by a black woman in Roman Britain, she playfully fuses contemporary slang with Latin; she turns the revered Latin language into something more informal:
‘Sometimes we’d hear grunting
on the beach and imagine some illicit
extramarital action was in progress,
we’d call out in our deepest, gruffest voices,
Hey polizia! and rock with laughter
‘cos we’d interrupted their flipping coitus’
2- She questions accepted accounts of history: Blonde Roots imagines a world where Europeans were enslaved by Africans. In it, Doris longs to get back to Europa, where her family grew cabbages on a farm and sang folk songs like ‘Scarborough Fair’.
A visiting African nobleman finds the practices of the people of Europa barbaric (there are people being burned alive and hung, drawn and quartered). Blonde Roots subverts the justification of slavery (and contemporary racism) by undermining the absolutism of Western versions of history, which paint themselves as the pinnacle of civilisation.
3- She’s a feminist!
What more can I say?
4- She experiments. A lot: Bernardine Evaristo has experimented so much with form: she worked her way up to writing full prose novels via novels fully then partly in verse. She plays with language and has a good ear for slang and speech patterns, resulting in unique and accessible poetry and prose.
5- She is a woman of many talents: Fiction-wise she’s a poet, novelist and has written radio plays. She also is a creative writing teacher, literary critic and editor. In addition to being an award-winning writer, she does a lot of reader events and workshops, communicating with people in seemingly every way possible.
So what are you waiting for? Go read one of her books! Below is her bibliography.
- Girl, Woman, Other, 2019
- Mr Loverman, 2013
- Hello Mum, 2010
- Lara, 2009
- Blonde Roots, 2008
- Soul Tourists, 2005
- The Emperor’s Babe, 2001
- Island of Abraham, 1994
Is there any author that you’re obsessed with? Share with me in the comments.
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