Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo (2019)
In Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize winning Girl, Woman, Other, we are introduced to twelve different, loosely connected, British Black women living twelve very different lives: A radical feminist playwright finds herself disappointed by her daughter’s less zealous attitude towards gender; a rural English woman is shocked to discover she has Black ancestry; an abused woman flees to the United States with her female lover only to find that relationship recreating the same power dynamic she had fled; a woman rejects the ‘soft’ trappings of ‘femininity’ to rise in the ranks of high finance. These stories, and more, fill the pages of this tremendous novel in linked short stories.
What makes this book so powerful, and such an important contribution to our contemporary discourse, is the way it not only shows how pervasive the impacts of misogyny, racism, and homophobia are in the lives of its characters, but also how the same power dynamics that govern those problems repeat and replicate themselves within marginalized communities. If you’ve ever been confused by the idea of ‘intersectionality’, this novel is a fantastic, empathetic, master class in the concept, as Evaristo captures the complexities of life for all these women in the various intersections of race, skin-colour, gender, age. class, religion, and personality.
A great read-alike to this would be Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, which has a similar structure and looks at similar issues, but through an American lens.
“Yazz doesn’t know what to say, when did Court read Roxanne Gay – who’s amaaaazing? Was this a student outwitting the master moment? #whitegirltrumpsblackgirl”
Read this if you’re interested in:
- Black British culture
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