Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

From one of Britain’s most celebrated writers of color,Girl, Woman, Otheris a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of black British women. Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize and short-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize,Girl, Woman, Otherpaints a vivid portrait of the state of post-Brexit Britain, as well as looking back to the legacy of Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.

The 12 central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her black lesbian identity; her old friend, Shirley, is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother, Bummi, works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry,Girl, Woman, Otheris a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.

Author: Bernardine Evaristo
Narrator: Anna-Maria Nabirye
Duration: 11 hours 6 minutes
Released: 19 Dec 2011
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Language: English

User Review:

foxhole pitiful

Although this is a book of short stories, they are so well connected one to another that the book reads like a novel. There are twelve chapters, each featuring a different character. They are all black British women. But other than that they don’t have a lot in common. They are of many ages and have a wide variety of jobs. They come from different classes and cultures. Some of them are gay. Some are married. And one has come out as transgender (nonbinary) and no longer identifies as female.

It is a book about diversity and culture, but it never feels like the author is trying to force her political opinions upon the reader. In fact it didn’t feel like a book exploring differences, but more one of similarities. How am I and this black, British nonbinary person the same? The story is enjoyable and thought-provoking.

I listened to the book on audio, so I cannot speak to the form of the words on the page. I have read that the form and structure are unique, with sections of the book appearing more like poetry than prose. On the audiobook this doesn’t really come through.

A book with 12 black protagonists? Yes, and all of them women? Yes!

This is a smart, smart book. But it reads easily, and quickly. It is warm, funny, compassionate, empathetic. The characters are sometimes confronting, but generally likable. I am very close to 5 stars on this one.