Girl, Woman, Other

By Bernardine Evaristo

girl woman other book review
Release Date
May 2, 2019
Author
Bernardine Evaristo
Genre
Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Goodreads rating
4.41
Page Count
453
What to expect
Black voices celebrated in a polyphonic tale; prose meets poetry

Premise

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 years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible. (From the publisher.)

Cover

Bright, bold, beautiful. I love the colours and strength it portrays; fitting of the range of characters we meet.

 

 

I’m also wary of walking home late at night on my own, I miss being respectfully called sir when I’m in a shop or restaurant, and I’m definitely taken less seriously when I open my mouth

You see, Megan, I learnt first hand how women are discriminated against, which is why I became a feminist after I’d transitioned, an intersectional feminist, because it’s not just about gender but race, sexuality, class and other intersections which we mostly unthinkingly live anyway

 

 

Prose

If you’re a stickler for punctuation, you’ll need to get your Frozen on. (Let. It. Go.) Evaristo writes with such loose, free-flowing verse, that you’ll find you’re halfway between prose and poetry, which is a lovely way to mirror the interwoven storylines of the characters we meet. The result feels like something more akin to a character’s voice, than any stilted conventional sentences that create paragraphs, and so on. While it’s breezy, it’s not always easy. But it’s right. 

Review

How great is it to read big and beautiful books about rich characters. This is indeed one of them. 

Rather than a novel, this book feels like you’re stepping into a community. Each person has their own story, each connected to another somehow. It’s a discovery of strength and friendship and love amidst the complexity of race, gender, age and sexuality. 

Girl, Woman, Other lets the voices of black women be heard and is delivered with the deft hand of a confident storyteller. Albeit an experimental one in both tone and through lack of convention.

be a person with knowledge not just opinions

In short, the book is broken into parts, each with its own triptych of characters who are linked to each other, one way or another. Ultimately, each part overlaps at the story’s conclusion, in a satisfying finale. I love how although there are threads woven throughout each character’s story, connecting them all via plot lines, each has her own identity and narrative. Although, I was sad to leave some of them behind for the sake of meeting new ones.

Author Bernardine Evaristo is certainly not a newcomer but her eighth book is my first. I can see why Girl, Woman, Other has been receiving accolade after accolade (it shared this year’s Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments).  

Her dedication reads: “For the sisters & the sistas & the sistahs & the sistren & the women & the womxn & the wimmin & the womyn & our brethren & our bredrin & our brothers & our bruvs & our men & our mandem & the LGBTQI+ members of the human family.” 

This certainly is a book that reaches far in its scope and it was a privilege to listen and learn. The characters feel so very real; at once both ordinary and extraordinary in measure. You can tell Evaristo loves each one. Girl, Woman, Other is a sweeping, polyphonic triumph of storytelling that lets the things said be heard loud and proud, and the things unsaid heard just as clearly.

 

Girl, Woman, Other
Cover
Prose
Characters
Ending
Prose meets poetry
Insightful
Strong characters
Would have loved more time with some characters
4.1
A colourful, curated blend of books, wine and creativity, with a soft spot for Australian work and female-centric narratives.


Fable and Fizz would like to acknowledge the Whadjuck Noongar people as the traditional owners and continual custodians on the lands and waters this content is primarily written on. I pay respects to their Elders — past and present. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
More Stories
Book cover of 'If I had your face'
If I Had Your Face