Afterthoughts: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Being a competitive triathlete – the minimum price of entry

The beauty of multi-perspective fiction

Dark Light

Girl, Woman, Other follows my favourite of formats in fiction: the polyphonic symphony of the human experience. Each of twelve (mostly) women in the book are for the most part self-contained and fully-realised narratives. There are, however, still threads that connect each one to each other, and the observant reader will pick up on this. In isolation, each story feels rich with authentic energy (if that even makes sense), but together they make up a vibrant portrait of what it is like to be a black woman in the British Isles.

“People won’t see you as just another woman any more, but as a white woman who hangs with brownies, and you’ll lose a bit of your privilege, you should still check it, though, have you heard the expression, check your privilege, babe? Courtney replied that seeing as Yazz is the daughter of a professor and a very well-known theatre director, she’s hardly underprivileged herself, whereas she, Courtney, comes from a really poor community where it’s normal to be working in a factory at sixteen and have your first child as a single mother at seventeen, and that her father’s farm is effectively owned by the bank

Yes but I’m black, Courts, which makes me more oppressed than anyone who isn’t, except Waris who is the most oppressed of all of them (although don’t tell her that)

In five categories, black, Muslim, female, poor, hijab bed She’s the only one Yazz can’t tell to check her privilege Courtney replied that Roxane Gay warned against the idea of playing ‘privilege Olympics’ and wrote in Bad Feminist that privilege is relative and contextual, and I agree, Yazz, I mean, where does it all end? Is Obama less privileged than a white hillbilly growing up in a trailer park with a junkie single mother and a jailbird father? Is a severely disabled person more privileged than a Syrian asylum-seeker who’s been tortured? Roxane argues that we have to find a new discourse for discussing inequality

Yazz doesn’t know what to say, when did Court read Roxane Gay – who’s amaaaazing?

Was this a student outwitting the master moment? #whitegirltrumpsblackgirl”

My absolutely favourite part of the books are the are the subtle and not-so-subtle acknowledgments Evaristo makes to other characters in the book. This is especially satisfying when I am already so heavily engrossed in the story at hand. Two of the more cherished moments for me were when I found out how Mrs. King, and later Penelope, related to the original cast of characters, and that left me so wide-eyed and open-jawed. Not only did I feel so invested in their stories, I felt even more so to the book the I saw the pieces fit together. It simply is a marvellous feeling.


Highly Recommended. It is such a rich, layered, and intoxicating portrait of the human experience, in particular the experience of black women in the British Isles.

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