Bernardine Evaristo’s GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER
This book is magnificent. I had my eye on reading it the moment I saw it arrive with the other Booker Longlisted titles but unfortunately did not get around to reading it before The Booker Prize was awarded. I immediately grabbed a copy hours after the award was announced and instantly fell in love with it from the opening page.
The novel is written in a unique, almost poetic structure. The first thing you notice is the arrangement of the paragraphs. Each sentence gets its own line of text and there is only one full stop per chapter. But you hardly notice this once you start reading as you quickly fall into the rhythm of the prose and the flow of the story. Bernardine Evaristo also wonderfully captures the unique voice of each character and their mannerisms clearly and subtlety come through the page.
The book is divided up into four distinct parts and tells three interconnected, multi-generational stories within each part. In doing so we get the stories of twelve girls, women, others; each with African heritage, and their experiences and lives in Britain from 1905 through to the modern day. But the story doesn’t take the traditional, chronological path either. We start in the middle, work our way to the present before heading back again whilst staying connected to the present all the time. And while there is sometimes common heritage and various lives cross each other’s paths, each character is also uniquely different. Firstly by the time they grew up in but also the attitudes and culture they are imbibed with by the family, by their friends and by those living around them. The result is a terrific narrative that is rich, heartbreaking, hopeful and full of immense insight.
This novel is so terrific it really should have won The Booker Prize in its own right. Margaret Atwood’s THE TESTAMENTS was a great read but I don’t think it deserved to be on this year’s long list let alone be a co-winner with a novel which embodies what a literary prize winning book should be; dazzlingly original, socially and politically relevant and a damn good book to read by a writer you might have missed if not for this award. I can tell you I won’t miss another book by Bernardine Evaristo, she is an amazing writer. Her and Melissa Lucashenko are two of my big literary finds of 2019, both thanks to literary awards. In a world where 7000+ titles get released every month it is a tragedy voices as great and important as Bernardine Evaristo can almost be lost in the crowd and the noise. But now her novel can make the noise because it is utterly brilliant and should be read by everyone.
Title: Girl, Woman, Other
Author: Bernardine Evaristo
Publisher: Penguin UK
Category: General Fiction , Sociology
Publication Date: 02/05/2019