Updated: Nov 24, 2019
Winner of the Booker prize for 2019, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is told from the perspective of several women and a non-binary character. The chapters focus on the points-of-view of each character, as they paint us a portrait of their lives, especially the events that have shaped them into the people they eventually become. The characters of these stories are mainly black/mixed, (except one), living in Britain and they are either immigrants or the children of immigrants (from Africa or the West Indies).
These women and them (Megan/Morgan), tackle many issues in their lives; from sexual assault, teen pregnancy, sexual and gender orientation bias, racism, sexism to familial discord and domestic abuse.
Evaristo writes these women/them with humour, familiarity, strength and honesty. All their stories were so relatable and could represent anyone in our lives; mother, sister, aunt, grandmother etc. Their failures, triumphs, traumas and general struggles at navigating life, relationships and friendships speak to the human experience; as many of us have gone through or are currently going through these experiences.
Whether it is Carol's sexual assault, Dominique's domestic abuse, Amma's determination to stay in the arts field she loved; even though it was a constant struggle before she achieved mainstream success. Winsome's sexual awakening in her middle age after an affair with her son-in-law. Megan/Morgan's journey to figuring out their gender identity, Hattie's heartbreak at having to keep the birth of her first child from the rest of her family.
All of these stories were heartfelt, engaging, enlightening and written in a voice that centres the experience of black and coloured women which has not always been the case in fiction.
Brava, Ms. Evaristo, brava!