Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo – A review by Anand Nair
I read this book in two days and towards the end, I was rushing, I couldn’t wait for the next exquisite page, experience, tongue-in-cheek comment on our British society of the twenty-first century, some of whose people are living in a time-warp, scattered over the last seven decades, more or less.
Evaristo’s world is a black world, mainly black female, refusing to be labelled, boxed and stowed away. A day after I finished reading the last page, I started all over again. I do re-read books that I enjoy, but this is the first one I started again a day after I finished it.
Twelve very different women stride these pages with authority. They are the immigrants, mainly from West Africa. their descendants still carrying the handicaps of being ‘other’ in a monochrome fifties Britain. Then they grow, blossom, stake out their territories, artistic, social, sexual or otherwise. They do this with panache, conviction and humour. Men, step aside for a moment, we have a few things to say.
Evaristo’s writing is sharp, wise and mocking. She takes British attitudes to black apart and puts them together in new patterns. There are the women producing plays and battling their way up in the West End jungle, the young girls trying to survive in an more-or-less white campus, and all trying to revel in their sexuality, as varied as their origins. Evaristo follows the hilarious, aspirational, glorious, agonising lives of twelve black women through the fifties and sixties and into now.
What a surprising, heart-warming, glorious, multi-tale!