Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo shared the Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. The Booker Prize is a literary award given annually to the best novel written in English and published in the UK or Ireland. In 2019, the rules were sort of broken and the prize was shared. One just wonders, if publicity had anything to do with this. The TV series at that time and the expectation of the continuation of The Handmaid’s Tale. I did wonder at the time. I do wonder now. I have read both books and I would have been able to choose just one – Girl, Woman, Other.
I bought Girl, Woman, Other when I heard of the Booker Prize awards. In that way Booker Prize managed to bring Girl, Woman, Other within my horizons. Then it stood on my book shelf. I started reading it some weeks ago. I immediately warmed to the original writing style and the way Evaristo used the space on the page. I got through the first chapter and three of the 12 women in this fusion fiction book about women and their lives. Then I stopped. It was too much. Reading is such a conventional thing. I expect fullstops, clear punctution marks to give my brain some breathing space between thoughts. I mean where does one thought begin and the next start. This fusion of sentences allowed me not enough relaxation. And that was not all. My race was scorned. My race was willified. We were the bad ones. It was hard to take.
I do admit that I am a racicist. But let me explain. I believe we all are. The Other is so different. In skin color as well as in many other things. Won’t get into that now… What one needs to do is to acknowledge this, not deny it. It is only then that one is also able to check one’s racist thoughts and actions. We all wear our colour. Even whites. I mean I have stood in situations in Asia and Africa where I have felt that I was the Other and feeling even threathened because of my white skin. And yes, on those occacions I have been a representative of my entire race – not just plain me.
But I got over it. Started with Carole and chapter two. Continued with Bummi. Ok. No hurry. The writing is good, it all is a wonderful journey and I am starting to get the hang of it. And who would not feel the love there is for Bummi? Such a real person. Such insights into human nature. Such a delight to read of her. Yes, I can do this. The rest of the book went on smoothly. And what a conclusion.
What can I say? Girl, Woman, Other is the kind of book that expands one’s understanding of what it means to be human. I feel Evaristo takes us on a journey beyond the cliches of commercial writing whilst at the same time pushing the boundries of form. In Girl, Woman, Other Evaristo invites us to share in the expressions of our deeper consciousness. (non-quotes from Girl, Woman, Other: page 426 here and page 406 for below)
the book was simply wonderful, wonderful
which is all I wish to say
which is all they should have said
Sounds powerful. Great review.
Thanks. Yes, it is powerful.