Joint Winner Of The Man Booker Prize Teeming With Life And Crackling With Energy A Love Song To Modern Britain And Black Womanhood 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 YearsJoyfully Polyphonic And Vibrantly Contemporary, This Is A Gloriously New Kind Of History, A Novel Of Our Times Celebratory, Ever Dynamic And Utterly Irresistible Magnificent novel of such grand scope and ambition This is a novel about 12 women but it is also a sweeping history of the black British experience The attention to detail, the structure, the syntax, it s all brilliant and moving and truly represents what fiction at its finest. Now shortlisted for the Women s Prize.Winner jointly of the 2019 Booker Prize perhaps appropriately given its closing words this is about beingtogether A book I have read and loved three times so I was delighted to be present for its win and to get these photosWhen hearing the winner announcement I immediately thought of a passage very early in the book when it says Amma then spent decades on the fringe, a renegade lobbing hand grenades at the establishment that excluded her until the m Now shortlisted for the Women s Prize.Winner jointly of the 2019 Booker Prize perhaps appropriately given its closing words this is about beingtogether A book I have read and loved three times so I was delighted to be present for its win and to get these photosWhen hearing the winner announcement I immediately thought of a passage very early in the book when it says Amma then spent decades on the fringe, a renegade lobbing hand grenades at the establishment that excluded her until the mainstream began to absorb what was once radical and she found herself hopeful of joining itAt the Foyles New Statesman Booker Winner reading on the Thursday of the award I asked the author if she had also reflected on that passage when the announcement was made and how it applied to her own situation Her answer was that she had in fact been reflecting on it for some time including when she was completing the book , but crucially that when she first started writing the book she did not think it was true for her at all she did not expect any positive reception from the mainstream as she did not think it had moved far enough or the book would be seen as topical enough However the metoo and blacklivesmatter movements shifted the ground significantly in her view and meant that the mainstream was ready for a black woman writing about black women.MAIN REVIEW The book is written as a series of twelve chapters, each featuring a named character These characters are Black although in one case not aware , British although in one case no longer thinking of themselves as such and Female although in one case no longer identifying as such They are however of different age, sexuality and sexual identity, formative experience, family unit structure both parental unit and their own family unit , ethnic make up, ancestral origin, shade, region, occupation, cultural background, class, and degree of activism as well as journey along the activist conventional spectrum over time.This is a novel of polyphony, polygenetics, polygenderism.But crucially it was not one that at any time I felt was a forced attempt to represent diversity butof a natural attempt to examine the core shared identity of the characters alongside their differences and their journey andcrucially an attempt to give visibility to black British women in literature The author has described the style she chose to adopt here as fusion fiction a fluid form of prose poetry, with a dearth of conventional sentences with capital letter openings and full stop endingsI found this style very effective form matching content, style matching theme Evaristo has always been someone who challenges convention in art as captured in Amma the most autobiographical of the characters The fluidity of the prose enables her to range within the characters thoughts and across time, and between stories and characters.The characters are grouped in four sets of three with clear and immediate links between the characters in each set, but less obvious and emerging links between the characters in different sets.The first set has Amma a provocative theatre director , her daughter Yazz studying literature at the UEA and Dominique now based in the US but at Amma s original partner in disrupting theatrical culture.The second Carole who pulled herself from difficult origins, via a Maths degree at Oxford to a banking job in the City , Bummi her mother and La Tisha her one time schoolfriend now working in a supermarket as a young Mum of three children by three absent fathers.The third has Shirley a friend of Amma s since school, now veteran teacher whose greatest project as a teacher was Carole , Shirley s mother Winsome now retired in Barbados and Penelope a now retired colleague of Shirley s who resented the increasing multi culturalism of their school for many years, while secretly struggling with finding out on her 16th birthday she was a foundling The last has non binary Megan Morgan they are a social media influencer and activist , Hattie their great grandmother, a 90 something Northumberland farmer and Grace Hattie s mother.Thee are only the main characters though and Evaristo also brings in the backstories of their parents, their closest friends and even the parents of their closest friends She has said in an interviewAt one point I thought maybe I could have one hundred protagonists Toni Morrison has a quote Try to think the unthinkable That s unthinkable One hundred black women characters How can I do that I need apoetic form Now there are only twelve main charactersand while adopting the poetic form the novel still retains strong elements of her centurion ambitions And the backstories are important I believe in what the author is trying to achieve From the same interviewEven though I don t have a protagonist who s a young teenager, a lot of the characters went through that stage So you have a sense of who they were as children, how they became adults, and then how they are as mothers I m deeply interested in how we become the people we are Coming from a radical feminist alternative community in my 20s, and then seeing these people in their 40s and 50s, I ve seen people become extremely, almost, conservative, establishment, having lost all the free spiritedness, oppositionality and rebelliousness of their younger years To me that s fascinating When I meet young people today and they are a certain way, I think You don t know who you re going to be That feeds into the fiction How do we parent our children What are our ambitions for our children How does that link to how we were raised How does gender play out Amma is perhaps also the most central character and it is in the after party on the opening night of her first play at the National Theatre The Lastof Dahomey , that the various characters and their stories converge and interact Carole as her partner is a sponsor of the National, Morgan invited to review the play by tweet for example.A final epilogue reveals a final link via an examination of hybridity of origins and finishes with the quote with which I open my review.I found this a strong novel there is polemic and challenge, but also warmth, humour and self awareness Carol s idea of bed time reading includesalso monitoring the international news that affects market conditions, the weather conditions that affect crops, the terrorism that destabilizes countries, the elections that effect trading agreements, the natural disasters that can wipe out whole industrieswhich could simply not be closer to my own work related reading, but she also commentsand if it isn t related to work, it s not worth readingwhich could simply not be further from my own view of literature and a book like this is why wider reading is worthwhile.At the after party we are told a five star review has already been uploaded online from one usually savage pit bull of a critic who s been uncharacteristically gushing astonishing, moving, controversial, original Well as my profile picture shows I amGolden Retriever incidentally one such Humperdinck features as Penelope s loyal companionalways there for her, always eagle for a cuddle, who ll listen to her for hours without interruption greets her as soon as she steps in the doorthan savage pit bull of a critic although I have my moments but five stars from me After hearing so much about this novel, a joint winner of the Booker prize, I was incredibly keen to read this Bernardine Evaristo writes vibrantly of a contemporary Britain that is rarely seen, challenging, giving us a glimpse of its past, present and future, with a seamless feminist narrative that goes back and forth in time, an unconventional structure, poetic prose, and a disregard of the normal conventions of punctuation She presents us with a broad and diverse spectrum of black women s v After hearing so much about this novel, a joint winner of the Booker prize, I was incredibly keen to read this Bernardine Evaristo writes vibrantly of a contemporary Britain that is rarely seen, challenging, giving us a glimpse of its past, present and future, with a seamless feminist narrative that goes back and forth in time, an unconventional structure, poetic prose, and a disregard of the normal conventions of punctuation She presents us with a broad and diverse spectrum of black women s voices, all distinct, from differing backgrounds, ages, roots, class, occupations, families, from many parts of the country and sexuality in all its forms It speaks of race, living and surviving in a white dominant culture and its implications and repercussions, the broad church of thinking when it comes to the definition of black and the questions of identity I found it to be a profoundly moving, beautifully written and imaginative read, sensitive, compassionate, so human and ingenious in its portrayal and focus on the women, with their obvious and not so obvious connections with each other Brilliant and so deserving of the accolades it is receiving Many thanks to Penguin UK for a copy of the book Polyphonic choir of women, singing a song of life in dissonances and harmonies This may well be my favourite book of 2019, curing a stress related Reader s Block with instant effect Sharing is caring, and Bernardine Evaristo shares life experiences that stretch a century back in time and move towards our immediate, contemporary world She cares for her characters, and that results in the reader caring too I found myself identifying with a bitter school teacher, with a strong creative woman s Polyphonic choir of women, singing a song of life in dissonances and harmonies This may well be my favourite book of 2019, curing a stress related Reader s Block with instant effect Sharing is caring, and Bernardine Evaristo shares life experiences that stretch a century back in time and move towards our immediate, contemporary world She cares for her characters, and that results in the reader caring too I found myself identifying with a bitter school teacher, with a strong creative woman subdued by narcissistic abuse, with a teenager rebelling against successful parents, with a wallflower moving on the fringes of fashionable circles, with a needy playwright, with a gender fluid person of female biological origin, even with an old farmer and her wish to pass on the farm to a family member I identified with girls trying to heal from traumatic teenage experiences and with women who never learned how to find their own voices in the loud orchestra of patriarchy Even though one of the main themes is being a person of colour in a world of white supremacy open or hidden, depending on situation , and even though I belong to the entitled, privileged group of people who have a choice whether racism is a topic to be bothered with or not as opposed to those who have to live with the issue whether they like it or not as it is imposed on them by a dominant culture , I strongly identified with all these characters problems and issues with racism, because their stories are told with a loving, caring voice that humanises the pain and injustice.Some people me included claim that the power of writing fiction instead of fact books on relevant questions in society lies in the fact that fiction builds a relationship between the reader and the message, and that this relationship leads to empathy and a true wish for change No other book I have read recently proves that point as well as this wonderfully creative account of women in the world.Pure Literature Straight to the heart Update This predictably has won the Booker 2019 jointly And if it is the best book of the shortlist, I am very happy about my decision not to spend time reading any others shortlisted this year Original review Unfortunately I ended up disappointed by this book, though I really wanted to like it In fact, it is the only book from this year Booker I ve decided to read I ve read two others before they were long listed It seems this book is widely admired by others But it has fallen quite Update This predictably has won the Booker 2019 jointly And if it is the best book of the shortlist, I am very happy about my decision not to spend time reading any others shortlisted this year Original review Unfortunately I ended up disappointed by this book, though I really wanted to like it In fact, it is the only book from this year Booker I ve decided to read I ve read two others before they were long listed It seems this book is widely admired by others But it has fallen quite short of my personal expectations The book is devoted to the lives, experiences and ideas of black women in Britain It is constructed as 12 short stories, superficially interconnected by the author Each story follows the life of a particular character with grand finale when the majority of the characters met There is also an epilogue with the moving, but predictable twist The book is celebration of success of these woman, which is really admirable, fantastic intention But I seriously struggled with the execution of this First, any individual story reads like a long read article from The guardian It is sketchy, aspirational, it might be a good journalism But I am not sure it is a good literature Sometimes the article would become almost feminist manifesto We should celebrate with that manywomen are reconfiguring feminism and that grassroots activism is spreading like wildfire and millions of women are waking up to the possibility of taking ownership of our world as fully entitled human being how can we argue with that Wonderful, but is it how two lesbian 50 years old friends talk to each other after two bottles of red wine and 4 lines of coke I do not know But I doubt The characters are used as mouthpieces for statements like that Her mother was unthinkingly repeating patterns of oppression based on gender The idea of reinventing the farm for the people who have reinvented themselves When I want to read an article I go to the website or buy a newspaper I want something different from a book At minimum I want a complex, human characters I want depth Here, the diversity prevail over complexity The breadth prevails over the depth All the stories are stories of success of the self made women But sometimes I found it very hard to believe The characters overcome horrific traumas such as rape, severe post tantrum depression, drug addiction How do they do it Just by the power of their will In case of drug addiction, staying at home and sweating for a week cured it all It sounds very naive at best It is very good to hear such stories But it should be at least some discussion that it was a rare case of luck Without it, the whole narrative becomes simply cartoonish And reading 12 articles under one cover becomes a bit tedious A lot of true, but tired bits of public discourse are thrown into general mixture For example, I do not need a character to repeat that a Muslim perpetrator of atrocities would be called a terrorist while the white would be called a madman Sadly, I heard this one many times before Or another character would tell me that Gender is a social construct and femininity and masculinity are society inventions I read my Guardian But if someone does not, I do not think she he would be converted by seeing it first as a soundbite here The book is a bit better in the stories of the older characters It is still quite didactic, but less rhetorical That feels like a relief The epilogue involving two oldest characters of 80 and 94 years old is the best part of the whole book In spite of all rhetoric, the aspirations of these very diverse crowd appear to be relatively middle class the house, security, to keep a farm inside the family for generations, certain amount of prejudice towards the others It is probably a good thing But does it make a good literature I am not convinced.While reading I could not but compare this book with two different recent novels of the similar topicality Zadie Smith s Swing time and The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell The former deals with mixed raced friends growing up in London, the latter is structured in very similar way 9 connected stories of predominantly female characters in Zambia I found both of these books less than perfect butsuccessful and effective as fiction These might affect my general opinion and rating of this book This is an admirable spirit of a book, feel good manifesto, but it is bit too simplistic as a work of literary fiction 2.5 stars rounded down it s easy to forget that England is made up of many Englandsa cosy scratchy patchwork of connected storiesa polyphonic harmony of dissonant voicesa hymn, ancient and modern, to women of coloura beautifully disorienting kaleidoscopic lensprivilegewe re often told to check your privilege I have a privileged lifeit doesn t always feel that way I ve known heartbreak, loss, and worries about work, money, and healthand I m a woman in what is still ratherof a man s worldbut I have had two parent it s easy to forget that England is made up of many Englandsa cosy scratchy patchwork of connected storiesa polyphonic harmony of dissonant voicesa hymn, ancient and modern, to women of coloura beautifully disorienting kaleidoscopic lensprivilegewe re often told to check your privilege I have a privileged lifeit doesn t always feel that way I ve known heartbreak, loss, and worries about work, money, and healthand I m a woman in what is still ratherof a man s worldbut I have had two parents who love d me though not each other , a good education, loyal friends, a loving husband, an interesting though not especially remunerative job, and a 25 year old I am immensely proud of I m white, straight, middle class, and live in a pretty country town, conveniently near London and I read wonderful books like thisa downside is that geography and demographics mean my family, friends, and colleagues are predominantly whitethe greatest ethnic diversity I experienced was at boarding school where ironically I was one of the least privileged, economicallybut this isn t about meit s about the characters that other authors squeeze into peripheral roles to add colour and diversity to their monotone tomesEvaristo brings them front of stage and lets them shine why I read this there is a non binary gender enby character several GR friends wrote enticing reviews I want to diversify my reading it won the Booker prize which somewhat contradicts the previous point I knew it was about British women of colour and wondered how relatable it would bewhen my enby child gave me a copy I was additionally wary of its physical heft and minimal punctuation mixed voices with no quote marks and no full stops about the book no spoilersEvaristo s fusion fiction looks disorientingly unstructured but it s like stepping into fast flowing water immersive and startling and it took me to places I ve only ever heard about the four main chapters each contain three sections one per personthe three in each chapter are directly connected but there are other looser ties to those in other chaptersyou see people and events from different viewpoints and the truth is not clearcut in the final chapter, most of them come together literallyImage West African Adinkra symbols one at the top of each chapter for its main character Source these women s lives washed over me though me as the chronology ebbed and flowedthe stories are told from the point of view of each characterthey re not narrated by them yet each has a distinct voice, dialect, and moodand Evaristo achieves this with very little direct speechbig issues, light touchthe characters are mostly black women, from 19 to 93, and several are queerbut their struggles, successes, failures, relationships, and personalities are very variedthat subtly and unexpectedly opened the way for me to see similarities to me and my family without whitewashing or detracting from the issues women of colour invariably face, let alone those additionally disadvantaged by trauma, poverty, illness, or being gay I feel as if I have really met them and find myself wondering how we could fit in each others livesperhaps most fundamentally the stories are about identity and labels and finding one s place and one s people, about family lost and found, and about many permutations of relationships, whether helped or hindered by secretsthe importance of education is also a common threadmy second review here, lists some of the other themesit is rich, enriching, eye opening, poetic, fun, tragic, hopeful, and yes, relatable Booker Prize winner 2019this should have won the Booker outrightas an Atwood fan who s read this and The Testaments see my review here I think the judges were wrongthis was also one of Obama s 19 best books of 2019 hereImage collage at Penguin offices Source quotesan atmosphere glutinous with tensionshe became wrapped in the nightmare cocoon of person s increasing paranoiashe started treating me like a disciple instead of a loverLiverpool Street station with its inter galactic glass and steel ceiling propped up by towering Corinthian columnsshe s a willing orchestral player in the cacophony of London s busiest station the anonymous convergence of commuters who are 99.9% genetically identical regardless of their visual packagingstretch marks looked like art and felt like Brailletwo amphibian mounds taunted her with their nipple eyesshedding layers of what had been imposed, hoping to reach the core of herselfwhy wear the burden of colour to hold you back passing a face that s gone slack except for a mouth that holds all her misery like a drawstring tightened around a pouchscreen rights I m sure someone will want the screen rights for this, and I m not sure how I feel about that I liked the 12 main sections, but suspect that rather than doing a 13 part series they d want to interleave the storiesas with Cloud Atlas, which I reviewed here , and I think that would be a shame trigger warningthere is a gang rape of a teenager that s essential for the plotEvaristo handles it perfectly the life changing horror is plain without any graphic details her body wasn t her ownand she, who loved numbers, became innumeratethe victim wonders if she was partly to blame, but it s totally clear that she is notfordetails about the characters, their connections, and the defining events in their lives, plus additional quotes, see my notes in a second review here Winner of the Booker Prize 2019 together with The Testaments This panoramic, polyphonic novel reflects the lives of mostly black women in Britain, and its narrative approach could be described as literary docu fiction The 12 protagonists are all fictional, of different ages, with different cultural and social backgrounds and with different personalities, and the book provides its readers with the women s condensed life stories, packed with information, always keeping a certain observational Winner of the Booker Prize 2019 together with The Testaments This panoramic, polyphonic novel reflects the lives of mostly black women in Britain, and its narrative approach could be described as literary docu fiction The 12 protagonists are all fictional, of different ages, with different cultural and social backgrounds and with different personalities, and the book provides its readers with the women s condensed life stories, packed with information, always keeping a certain observational distance, investigating their destinies like through the camera lense of a documentary filmmaker The book s characters cross paths in different ways, their individual stories employed to contrast female experiences, but also to parallel them and to highlight similarities and unifying factors While it is apparent why this is an important book that also gives a voice to women who frequently get overlooked in the representation of contemporary Britain, I have to say that I never really warmed to this text The story tends to get buried under the intention to include an extremely wide range of ideas about what it can mean to be a woman, and the author piles up characters and information when instead of evenbroadness, a littledepth would have heightened the impact Evaristo shows women as social climbers, single mothers, sourvivors of abuse, victims of sexism and racism, lovers, wives, widows, daughters, grandmothers, VPs, teachers, cleaning women, artists, college students, school dropouts, immigrants and the children of immigrants, and in many other roles but all of her characters are fighters, in their very own way Usually, I love polyphonic novels my favorite book of 2018 was There There, which also features 12 protagonists but over long passages of Evaristo s effort, I was rather bored and felt disaffected The relentlessly descriptive re tellings of whole life stories plus the additive effect of the strict, enumerative structure feels exhausting we are introduced to one character after the other, then there s an end where they meet and an epilogue , and the narrative intent, while important, always remains visible this prose does not carry its readers away with emotion or urgency So all in all, the chapters of this novel are reminiscient of magazine articles about diverse women in Britain pretty good magazine articles, but is this great literary fiction The topic is certainly worthwhile, but this book did not convince me Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019On Our Own Terms or Not At All Twelve stories from twelve women.When I started reading this, the stories seemed straightforward Deceptively simple relatively harmless At face value they seemed to be about women s stuff.Was I wrong Upfront, this review will be all over the shop Bear with There is just so much going on in this book, it s a challenge for me to reflect this properly in this review.We meet women of different ages, socio ec Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019On Our Own Terms or Not At All Twelve stories from twelve women.When I started reading this, the stories seemed straightforward Deceptively simple relatively harmless At face value they seemed to be about women s stuff.Was I wrong Upfront, this review will be all over the shop Bear with There is just so much going on in this book, it s a challenge for me to reflect this properly in this review.We meet women of different ages, socio economic backgrounds, educational levels, class sexual persuasions All caught up in this thing called life.What does it mean to be a woman today Does a woman now have the same hopes, dreams aspirations as a woman did 20, 30, 50 years ago Does anything ever really change The writing style is quite unique Characters cross paths as their stories intersect We get to learnof their backstories while the focus is on anotherprotagonist I love how I had one impression of a character that I wasn t particularly keen on, only to change my mind about her many chapters down the track when I saw her in a different light.I was completely taken off guard by the depiction of domestic violence in an all female relationship That really opened my eyes I don t know why I was so surprised that this occurs.The plight of the refugee and immigrant is highlighted with poignancy How much is left behind, and is it worth how much is gained Does material wealth equal happiness Even when escaping from a violent country, the cost of broken families cannot be measured The hopes that the next generation will have an easier life andopportunities But then the new generation have their own prejudices to overcome and hurdles to jump A different set of issues to deal with The goalposts are ever moving.There are amusing depictions of the power struggles between the generations Each one convinced that their fight is theimportant The one that will change societythe older generation has RUINED EVERYTHING and her generation is dooooooooooooooomedyou get the picture We see the dynamics of various constructs of the no longer typical nuclear family The single mother, the lesbian mother, the working mother, the traditional father from the old country, the absentee father, the father who didn t even know he had a child.For me these women s voices are about their struggle to be heard and understood Treated fairly Paid equally Respected and loved.We also hear from their menfolk Of their struggles and triumphs as men of colour The assumption being they ll either end up as football stars, bouncers or hooligans The ones that do rise to some level of corporate achievement often have to do so at personal cost.Bernadine Evaristo captures the subtle quirks and failings of her characters with biting wit But she also captures their vulnerabilities and strengths with equal candour We get into their heads.I m old school when it comes to grammar and punctuation a la Eats, Shoots Leaves I don t even use abbreviations in text messages Oddly, the distinct lack of following writing rules in this book didn t bother me Sentences merge into one another in a free flowing form There s the occasional capital letter, and the fullstop is an endangered species But for some perverse reason I can t possibly fathom, it works.I m thrilled this book has made it to the Booker shortlist Very well deserved.A very solid 4.5 It was just an eeny bit too long for me Having said that, I m keen to read Bernadine s other booksShortlisted for the Man Booker Deservedly soAnother unofficial buddy read waves with extremely well read book fiend Collin Yup, I m hanging off his Man Booker Prize 2019 coat tails Makes me feel somewhat asophisticated reader to do so Team Collin Please make sure you check out his utterly fab review, it makes a hell of a lotsense than mine The winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other takes an energetic look at British Black womanhood The linked short story collection consists of four triptychs, each focusing on the hopes and frustrations of Black women as they navigate Britain s social hierarchy Evaristo s fragmented prose is compelling and propels the cinematic collection forward again and again at a breakneck pace the highlights of a life are surveyed, from school troubles to late in life despair A lesbian pla The winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other takes an energetic look at British Black womanhood The linked short story collection consists of four triptychs, each focusing on the hopes and frustrations of Black women as they navigate Britain s social hierarchy Evaristo s fragmented prose is compelling and propels the cinematic collection forward again and again at a breakneck pace the highlights of a life are surveyed, from school troubles to late in life despair A lesbian playwright prepares to debut what she hopes to be her ticket to mainstream success, while a high energy vice president of a bank plots her next move The best stories are found near the start, with later chapters feeling a bit rushed and predictable Well deserved Booker prize 2019 winner Filled with humor while narrating the racially and sexual diverse female experience in Great BrittainI am a major sucker for interconnected, contemporary stories Cloud Atlas is my favourite book and David Mitchell my favourite writer so Girl, Woman, Other is right up my alley from that perspective.Bernardine Evaristo captures lives in a convincing, seemingly effortless manner, while following the twelve narrators who are loosely bound by a theater perform Well deserved Booker prize 2019 winner Filled with humor while narrating the racially and sexual diverse female experience in Great BrittainI am a major sucker for interconnected, contemporary stories Cloud Atlas is my favourite book and David Mitchell my favourite writer so Girl, Woman, Other is right up my alley from that perspective.Bernardine Evaristo captures lives in a convincing, seemingly effortless manner, while following the twelve narrators who are loosely bound by a theater performance of one of them.Besides racism, the crushing aspirations and dreams of family resting on many of the narrators, is a common theme The contrast between metropolitan London life and country life with one of the characters even voting UKIP is an other Unwanted sexual attention and pregnancies, and the impact this always has on women, and almost never men, also comes back a lot.These themes could make this book heavy or tedious even, but Evaristo makes it a joyous, fun, sexual and racially diverse amalgamation of women s lives And how much of literature, even today, can say that 4.5 stars rounded upChapter oneFirst story is about Amma, a now successful theatre director who looks back at the trajectory she and Dominique, the manager of the Bush Woman Theatre Company, went through From anarchistic communes, the clubscene, to the opening night of her play at the National Theatre she paints a London that feels far away but still has very sensuous charm Her tale is sprinkled with some woman on woman one nightstands, musings on motherhood and lots of humor.The humor is amped up when we follow Yazz, the daughter of Amma who is in her cynical late teenager years, I just can t help it I loved her x ray judgement on literally everyone because that is what teenagers do, don t they while she waits for the performance to start.There is some love anxiety If she can t get a proper boyfriend at nineteen what hope is there for when she s olderand racism to her Somali friend, while her fabulously rich Egyptian friend, with ties to the regime of Mubarak and rural white Courtney triggers interesting musings on if privilege is tied to race, or to money.Dominique her story, the good friend with whom Amma started her theatre company, focusses on a cultlike and all consuming love turned into an abbusive relationship That it is a gay relationship between two black women makes it no less universal or claustrophobic.Chapter twoCarole is a career women who looks back on her ascendency through Oxford to working in the City, while still not feeling at ease in her high class environment.Her reflection on being at university, feeling voiceless at being confronted with privilege and wholly other lives, struck a chord nobody talked loudly about growing up in a council flat on a skyscraper estate with a single mother who worked as a cleanernobody talked loudly about never having gone on a single holiday, like evernobody talked loudly about never having been on a plane, seen a play or the sea, or eaten in a restaurant, with waitersAlso sexual abuse and disparity in power between the genders plays a role, before Carole will go to the play at the end of her working day at her bank.Bummi is Carole s mother and struggles with the fact that she wants her daughter to be succesful and traditional She accuses Carole of losing her true Nigerian culture but also photocopies and frames her acceptance letter to Oxford three times throughout her house.She herself has a master in mathematics in Nigeria but is relegated to cleaning work, and eventually owning a cleaning business, when she goes to England with her husband Her life after her husband dies revolves around two relationships that give her muchbackground than you d expect based on Caroles observations about her.LaTisha, a good schoolfriend of Carole, tells about her time after leaving school, raising three children of three different men while working in a supermarket Rather than a tearful tale it is also hopeful and about her route to self improvement and reconciliation with her family.Chapter threeShirley is the story of mrs King, the teacher who saw potential in Carole, and her time as first black teacher at her school Her love with Lennox is quite sweetly portrayed and she turns out to be a friend of Amma In the end, due to many school reforms, she becomes rather bitter and refers to her school as Hellhole High School for Losers and her only reprieve are talented students like Carole and holidays in the Carribean at her mother.Her mother, Winsome, remenciscances on her youth in England, being treated as monkey people when they move from London to the coast because her husband wants to return to the ancestoral life of a fisher And she has a very close relationship with her son in law.The story then follows Penelope, the teaching friend of Shirley She turns out to be adopted and raised by a racist South African born mother A stint of unhappy marriages follow after being popular in school she admitted she d lost the me of myself and was subsumed within the we of marriage, relinquishing even her surname You also see a pattern that every generation sees itself as progressive and fighting for rights while at the same time being superseded and seen as being in power by younger generations in Penelope s case Shirley.Chapter fourMegan Morgan wrestles with her body while growing up and rebels by dropping out, taking a McDonald job and by taking a lot of drugs.She discovers herself when starting to chat with Bibi, who empowers Bibi replied that dreaming wasn t naive but essential for survival, dreaming was the equivalent of hoping on a large scale them to be gender free and identify as Morgan With their million Twitter transwarrior followers, the National Theatre asks for a review of the play of Amma and they knows Yazz from a lecture held at an university.Hattie is the grandmother to the partner of Morgan She is in her nineties and recalls her children struggling while growing up in Britain, contrasted with the experiences of her husband who fled the KKK in America This story felt slightly redundant compared to Winsome her story in my view, but shows that everyone can have secrets The discovery that part of her family in the past profited from slave trade is an interesting, if not fully fledged out, topic in this story.Grace narrates her early 1900 s growing up in a girls school to become a maid, after the early death of her mother, her father being an unknown sailor from Abyssinia She is mother to Harriet, and her tale of falling in love with an Englishman and her postnatal depression was well executed Interesting, her mothers tale contrast diametrically with what Harriet experiences very early in life.Afterparty and epilogueThe afterparty shows lively how almost everyone feels uncomfortable at such events except those few people doing cocaine , brings some background to characters while bringing them together and has interesting banter on the current revival of the feminist movement feminism needs tectonic plates to shift, not a trendy makeover any serious political movement that relies on beauty to sell it is doomed.Finally the epilogue establishes a connection between two characters in quite a touching manner, closing off the novel with a sentence that could also be used to define itand it s like the years are swiftly regressing until the lifetimes between them no longer existthis is not about feeling something or about speaking wordsthis is about beingtogether.
- 453 pages
- Girl, Woman, Other
- Bernardine Evaristo
- 23 February 2018 Bernardine Evaristo