Bernardine Evaristo is the author of the 2019 Booker Prize-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other, and the forthcoming memoir Manifesto, which investigates her long journey as a Black writer in a white-dominated industry.
Evaristo’s writing is characterized by experimentation, daring, subversion, and challenging the myths of various Afro-diasporic histories and identities, and her books range in genre from poetry to short story to drama to criticism.
Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win—the first by a Black woman—was a revolutionary moment both for British culture and for her. After three decades as a trailblazing writer, teacher, and activist, she moved from the margins to center stage, taking her place in the spotlight at last. Her journey was a long one, but she made it, and she made history.
Manifesto: On Never Giving Up is Bernardine Evaristo’s intimate and inspirational, no-holds-barred account of how she did it, refusing to let any barriers stand in her way. She charts her creative rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to the imaginative exploration of ‘untold’ stories. And drawing deeply on her own experiences, she offers a vital contribution to current conversations around social issues such as race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging.
In all of her work, Evaristo’s writing is celebrated for its experimentation, daring, subversion, and challenging the myths of Afro-diasporic identities and histories. She describes her writing style as a fusion: “As a writer of fictions I like to mix things up temporally, spatially and stylistically—to cross the borders of genre, race, culture, gender, history, and sexuality.” The Booker Judges citation praises Girl, Woman, Other for this fusion, saying, “The language wraps the reader by force, with the quality of oral traditions and poetry. This is a novel that deserves to be read aloud and to be performed and celebrated in all kinds of media.”
In Girl, Woman, Other, Evaristo offers a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of Black British women that paints a vivid portrait of the state of contemporary Britain and looks back to the legacy of Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean. “This masterful novel is a choral love song to Black womanhood,” wrote Elle magazine, while the Washington Post proclaimed, Girl, Woman, Other as “A breathtaking symphony of Black women’s voices, a clear-eyed survey of contemporary challenges that’s nevertheless wonderfully life-affirming.” Evaristo won the Booker Prize alongside Margaret Atwood, to which the Washington Post also remarked, “Girl, Woman, Other received half a Booker Prize, but it deserves all the glory.”
A staunch and longstanding activist and advocate for the inclusion of artists and writers of color, Evaristo has initiated several successful schemes to ensure increased representation in the creative industries.
Evaristo was born the fourth of eight children, in Woolwich, south east London, to an English mother (of English, Irish, and German heritage) and a Nigerian father (of Nigerian and Brazilian heritage). Her father was a welder and local labor councilor; her mother was a schoolteacher. She spent her teenage years at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre, which was where she first became involved in the arts. In 2019, Evaristo served as the inaugural Woolwich Laureate, appointed by the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival.
Among her many honors, Evaristo was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (2004), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2006), a Fellow of the English Association (2017), and a Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance (2018). She joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature in 2016 and became Vice Chair in 2017.
Evaristo lives in London with her husband, where she is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London.