Monday, November 11, 2019

Bernardine Evaristo

British writer Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. Her novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize.

From the transcript of her interview with NPR's Scott Simon:

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Bernardine Evaristo's novel "Girl, Woman, Other" has just been published in the United States after sharing Britain's Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood's "The Testaments." It follows 12 characters whose lives touch each other or come close or sometimes nowhere near and gives flesh-and-blood portraits of people who are often introduced with hyphens, like Amma, a socialist, lesbian playwright, and Megan/Morgan, who is nonbinary, and Winsome, a Barbadian Anglo immigrant and unhappy wife.

Bernardine Evaristo, a great writer who's Anglo-Nigerian, joins us from London. Thanks so much for being with us.

BERNARDINE EVARISTO: You're welcome. It's good to be here.

SIMON: Help set the scene of these unfolding shared stories for us.

EVARISTO: Yes. So basically, it's a novel about 12 primarily black British women. They're aged 19 to 93. The youngest, Yazz, is a university student, and the oldest, Hattie, is a farmer in the North of England. And I have women of every generation in between. They have different occupations, different cultural backgrounds, which very much reflects black British presence and history. So some of them have roots in Africa. Some of them have roots in the Caribbean. They are different sexualities.

And then the book opens with Amma, who is a black lesbian theater director. And she has a show opening at the National Theatre in London. She has spent nearly 40 years working in theater as a director and writer and very much on the margins feeling overlooked, very radical in her politics. And suddenly, she's got this big break. And then the story kind of goes off into all these other stories. And at the end of the novel, we see the show opening and the sort of gathering together of lots of characters in the book.

SIMON: You've said in interviews, I want to put presence into absence.

EVARISTO: Oh, well, so there are very few black British novels getting published. That's the truth of it. So when I decided to write this novel, I wanted to put as many black British women into it as possible to show the sort of heterogeneity of who we are in this society and to explore us as fully realized, complex, flawed individuals whose stories are...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue