Girl, Other, Woman
Tbh I started reading this novel a bit skeptically cos I’ve been feeling mildly fatigued by #queenqueenqueen
type approaches to #blackwomenmatter
discourse. I also felt super guilty for feeling like that, so sinking as if hypnotized into this novel about black British women was such a relief. Maybe I’m just tired of America, the many ways in which black America dominates racial content.
There are 12 characters, chapters, life-worlds. They overlap, sometimes gradually and sometimes as an electric shock. The pace is addictive (I read it over three nights), the characters are complex (the only common thread being born black and female) and while some are close, others just happen to go to the theatre on the same night. The style is free-flowing and fragmented, Evaristo calls it “fusion fiction” and its so tightly designed, it never sprawls.
Just like the busyness of the characters, the themes are just as busy. I loooove that this is not a book about besting patriarchy (I mean it is, but not just), it’s a book about class, sex, Britain, family, friendship, immigrant pressures, individual pleasures.
Evaristo is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize for Fiction for this novel. She was also one of two winners this year: for the first time ever the award was jointly given to two authors 😏 Most critics think Evaristo's novel should have won. And look, I haven’t read the other book (The Testaments
, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to A Handmaid's Tale
) but I love Atwood. That said, after reading this, I think Evaristo deserves every single prize on the planet.