Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Published: May 2nd, 2019
Genre: Fusion Fiction
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Welcome to Britain and twelve very different people – mostly women, mostly black- who call it home. Teeming with life and crackling with energy, Girl, Woman, Other follows them across the miles and down the years. With vivid originality, irrepressible wit and sly wisdom, Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this odd country: ever dynamic, ever expanding and utterly irresistible. (Source: Book Blurb)
this is not about feeling something or about speaking words
this is about being
These concluding words captured so well my emotions as I was reading this book. I felt ‘included’ in this circle, like I could have very easily added my own chapter somewhere in the middle, ‘Muthoni’ with a meaningful Adinkra symbol atop it and rumbled on about my own experiences, my existential crisis and struggles and I would be have been welcome, heard, not judged. That’s the kind of safe space Evaristo creates for women in this book, to exist in whichever which way they so chose and she does so with such compassion.
Girl, Woman, Other centres around the lives of twelve characters, Black British women, womxn, womyn, wimmin, sisters, sistahs and sistren, ranging from the ages of 19 to 90+, each with such agency, leading different lives but all somewhat interconnected as we all are, as members of the human family. As one of the characters, Penelope, muses after discovering she has African ancestry ‘anyone could be a relative.’
Each of these women is given a different section in the book (almost like short stories) and we get to know them from their own introspection, their own thoughts and reflections and in subsequent sections (stories) as the women’s lives intersect and interact, we get to see them from different lenses – through the eyes of the other characters and boy, don’t we all seem so different when seen through another’s eyes? It struck me how we all have blind spots – those traits we never see in ourselves but are so glaring to those around us. How we see ourselves vis a vis how others see us.
Evaristo doesn’t need to, but she proves that she is a gifted writer with this book. Able to cut across generations and embody each perfectly. I felt 19 reading about Yazz and her ‘Unfuckwithables’ clique and was also able to relate so well with the older generation – Winsome and Hattie. She gives us a peek into her rebel side by disregarding all conventional rules of grammar. There are no capitalization (unless it’s a noun), no full stops, no standard paragraphs, just an easy prose. It took me a few pages to get into the writing but once I did, I was IN. I fell in love. I actually tried writing this review in the same manner but damn auto-capitalization!
I’ll admit towards the end, it did feel a little ‘preachy’ especially with the conversation between Amma and Dom but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it allows the reader to introspect and to keep the conversation going long after you finish reading.
I could write a million other reasons why you should pick up this book but the most important is, you’ll be doing yourself a great injustice if you don’t.
I highly recommend it.