Bernardine Evaristo is the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of seven books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. As a literary activist for inclusion, Bernardine Evaristo has founded several successful initiatives including Theatre of Black Women (1982-86), Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-present); The Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-17) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012 - ongoing). www.bevaristo.com
When Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker prize in 2019, aged 60, for her eighth novel Girl, Woman, Other, she made history. After 40 years in creative industries, everything changed as she became the first black woman to win the prize in the fifty years since its inception. This memoir is a page-turning, intimate and brave account of her life. Convinced that fame and success would come, this autobiographical story of her unstoppable journey towards her many accolades is an inspiration as she shares her life stages from her birth in Eltham in 1959 through her upbringing and cultural background, her influences and inspirations. One of 8 children of a fearsome Nigerian father and white English mother, we learn about her bi-racial childhood, early experiences of racism and the challenges of growing up as a mixed race woman which ultimately set Evaristo on the path of rebellion and freedom. The chapters take us through her heritage as an independent middle child in an inter-racial family in a predominantly white area. Through her years as a nomadic Londoner living out of bin bags. Through the men and women who came and went, all culminating in her finding her soulmate. We see her creative journey from theatre-maker, writer of poetry to fiction and her becoming the award-winning writer she is today. The book concludes with her Manifesto. We see the potential, the possibilities, the rewards if you are brave enough, her refusal to conform and her passion for fighting for what she believes in. Although in her conclusion she concedes that these days instead of throwing stones at the fortress she sits inside its chambers having polite, persuasive persistent conversations about how best to transform outmoded infrastructures. She is formidable in every sense and I warmed to her and am inspired by her. She tells us of her addiction to the adventure of storytelling and I am in awe of that storytelling. Manifesto is about life, love, courage, community, creativity, activism and optimism. And I for one could not get enough of it. I’ll be pressing this book into the hands of people for years and imploring them to read it and everything she writes. We need more Evaristos in this world, that’s for sure. It’s a powerful manifesto from a trailblazer and a reminder that there is a manifesto in all of us.
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. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
Tate Britain: Look Again: the National Collection of British Art reimagined for today. Feminism is a powerful new interpretation of British art from an intersectional feminist perspective, from one of Britain's greatest writers. 'Art museums have long drawn me into their spaces. The infinite possibilities of the language of art opens me up to methods of communication quite unlike my own. I am fascinated by the most interesting and adventurous artists, who are surely among the most innovative thinkers on the planet. I am in awe of their talent and endless inventiveness, and my imagination is nourished by theirs. I am challenged to think differently about how we might understand, recreate, reshape, re-imagine life itself - animate, inanimate, spirit. My senses are stimulated, my emotions stirred, my brain whirrs away in the background and I feel very much alive. When I was invited to write this book, my first time writing about art, I immediately knew that I would turn my attention on women and womxn (to include non-binary people) of colour in British art because, similar to the story throughout the arts, either as creator or curator, we haven't been very visible. This book is personal - about the art I've seen, and the art I've loved - and my interpretation of the art in the national collection and beyond, from an intersectional feminist perspective.'
This is an astounding novel telling the stories of twelve characters living across the country and through the years. Each character is vivid as they take centre stage to share their story with us. Whether it's the sassy, argumentative Yazz, or the devastating narratives of Carole and Dominique. This book is filled with humour, culture and passion and I think it is a must-read for everyone. Composed as poetic prose, Bernadine Evaristo's lyricism throughout makes the sections flow, hammers home key points and gives each character their own unique tone. This is a book that will stop you in your tracks as you find out more about the characters but will also stop you reading as you contemplate the beauty in Evaristo's style of writing. "It's a novel about who we are now". Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Barrington Jedidiah Walker is seventy-four and leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he's lived in Hackney, London, for years. A flamboyant character with a fondness for William Shakespeare, Barrington is a husband, father, grandfather-and also secretly gay.His deeply religious and disappointed wife, Carmel, thinks he sleeps with other women. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington wants to divorce Carmel and live with Morris, but after a lifetime of fear and deception, will he manage to break away?With an abundance of laugh-out-loud humor and wit, Mr. Loverman explodes cultural myths and shows the extent of what can happen when people fear the consequences of being true to themselves.
This groundbreaking anthology of ten new poets truly reflects the multicultural make-up of contemporary Britain. At a time when less than 1% of all poetry books published in the UK are by black or Asian poets, the work of these writers testifies to the quality and versatility of vital writing that should not be overlooked. These new voices draw on cultural influences and multiple heritages that can only enrich and broaden the scope of contemporary British poetry. This anthology is the culmination of a much needed initiative by literature development agency Spread the Word to support talented new Black and Asian poets. The poets' histories are to be found in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ireland and England. Their eclectic, wide-ranging poems will take you on a journey into war and exile, myth and magic, homeland and memory, fantasy, family and love. Whether travelling through the streets of London, the killing fields of Bangladesh, the cane fields of the Caribbean, or back in time to the life of a courtesan in 3rd century BC India, these poems will open up new landscapes for the reader. Ten's new poets are: Mir Mahfuz Ali, Rowyda Amin, Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Karen McCarthy, Nick Makoha, Denise Saul, Seni Seneviratne, Shazea Quraishi and Janet Kofi Tsekpo.
FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER It's a hot summer afternoon. Tension is in the air. A gang of youths on bikes gathers outside a chip shop. A teenage boy is stabbed and left bleeding on the street. The boy's mother wonders how this could have happened to her son. She is full of questions, but when the answers lie so close to home, are they really what she wants to hear?
Lara is a powerful semi-autobiographical novel-in-verse based on Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo's own childhood and family history. The eponymous Lara is a mixed-race girl raised in Woolwich, a white suburb of London, during the 60s and 70s. Her father, Taiwo, is Nigerian, and her mother, Ellen, is white British. They marry in the 1950s, in spite of fierce opposition from Ellen's family, and quickly produce eight children in ten years. Lara is their fourth child and we follow her journey from restricted childhood to conflicted early adulthood, and then from London to Nigeria to Brazil as she seeks to understand herself and her ancestry. The novel travels back over 150 years, seven generations and three continents of Lara's ancestry. It is the story of Irish Catholics leaving generations of rural hardship behind and ascending to a rigid middle class in England; of German immigrants escaping poverty and seeking to build a new life in 19th century London; and of proud Yorubas enslaved in Brazil, free in colonial Nigeria and hopeful in post-war London. Lara explores the lives of those who leave one country in search of a better life elsewhere, but who end up struggling to be accepted even as they lay the foundations for their children and future generations. This is a new edition of Bernardine Evaristo's first novel Lara , rewritten and expanded by a third since its first publication in 1997.
FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER LONGLISTED FOR THE ORANGE PRIZE FOR FICTION 2009 WINNER OF THE ORANGE YOUTH PANEL AWARD 2009 FINALIST FOR THE HURSTON WRIGHT LEGACY AWARD 2010 'A phenomenal book. It is so ingenious and so novel. Think The Handmaid's Tale meets Noughts and Crosses with a bit of Jonathan Swift and Lewis Carroll thrown in. This should be thought of as a feminist classic.' Women's Prize for Fiction Podcast Welcome to a world turned upside down. One minute, Doris, from England, is playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields behind their cottage. The next, someone puts a bag over her head and she ends up in the hold of a slave-ship sailing to the New World . . . In this fantastically imaginative inversion of the transatlantic slave trade - in which 'whytes' are enslaved by black people - Bernardine Evaristo has created a thought-provoking satire that is as accessible and readable as it is intelligent and insightful. Blonde Roots brings the shackles and cries of long-ago barbarity uncomfortably close and raises timely questions about the society of today. 'A bold and brilliant game of counterfactual history. Evaristo keep[s] her wit and anger at a spicy simmer throughout' Daily Telegraph 'So human and real. Re-imagines past and present with refreshing humour and intelligence' Guardian 'A brilliant satire whose flashes of comedy make the underlying tragedy all the more poignant' Scotland on Sunday
FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER 'Evaristo possesses enough ball-busting originality to create whole novels for each of the historical characters she resurrects . . . [she creates] funky yarns so tantalising you want to devour them' Guardian Meet Stanley Williams: Single, in his thirties, grieving the death of his Jamaican father and wondering if there is more to life than his nine-to-five banking job in a sky-high glass menagerie. Enter Jessie O'Donnell: barmaid, former singer-cum-comedienne, and desperate to get into her rusty old Lady Niva and hit the freeway across Europe. The unlikely pair begin an electrifying odyssey that weaves in and out of history, colliding with the forgotten heroes of Europe's past. Shakespeare's mysterious 'Dark Lady of the Sonnet's, Pushkin and his Ethiopian great-grandfather and the mixed-race Allessandro de' Medici of Florence are all ready to have their voices heard, and Stanley and Jessie do what they can to hang on for the ride . . . 'A bouncy. . . touching novel about the search for love and belonging' The Times
FROM THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER WINNER OF THE NESTA FELLOWSHIP AWARD 2003 'Wildly entertaining, deeply affecting' Ali Smith, author of How to be both and Autumn A coming-of-age tale to make the muses themselves roar with laughter and weep for pity -- sassy, razor-sharp and transformative. Londinium, AD 211. Zuleika is a modern girl living in an ancient world. She's a back-alley firecracker, a scruffy Nubian babe with tangled hair and bare feet - and she's just been married off a fat old Roman. Life as a teenage bride is no joke but Zeeks is a born survivor. She knows this city like the back of her hand: its slave girls and drag queens, its shining villas and rotting slums. She knows how to get by. Until one day she catches the eye of the most powerful man on earth, the Roman Emperor, and her trouble really starts . . . Silver-tongued and merry-eyed, this is a story in song and verse, a joyful mash-up of today and yesterday. Kaleidoscoping distant past and vivid present, The Emperor's Babe asks what it means to be a woman and to survive in this thrilling, brutal, breathless world.