After having read the brilliant “fusion fiction” book, GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER by the astute and dynamic writer, Bernardine Evaristo, which was a vibrant and unapologetic narrative on race, intersectional feminism, ageism, gender, sexuality told by a plethora of Black women; it completely shifted my understanding about the said things. The book also won the Booker Prize in 2019 and hence she became the first Black woman and first Black British person to have won the award. I personally feel, Bernardine Evaristo, is one the best writers of our times who doesn’t shy away from decoding false narratives surrounding complex sociopolitical issues. Her unabashed truth telling jolts us from our stupor and makes us see the world through a more humane lens. And now, the writer’s latest book is a memoir manual, wherein, she talks about her life from growing up years to relationships to her writing methodology, in the most candid manner. The book is divided into seven chapters and through this she takes us on this journey of self exploration and growth. Growing up as a mixed race woman in a white-washed London society of the 1960s and 70s, was challenging. However her bold and nonconformist attitude made her convert these challenges into moments of opportunities. She says, up until the Booker Prize win, there were people who never took her seriously despite having published seven books by then. While describing her flings and romantic relationships she doesn’t shy away from taking ownership of her flaws in a particular relationship, and at the same time also acknowledges how each relationship, whether good, bad or ugly; has shaped her to be the woman she is today. She ponders over various aspects of her sexuality from being a lesbian lover to currently being married to a man. A greater part of the book, she meticulously describes her writing process; how she evolved from being a poet to a prose and fiction writer. She brazenly admits to having insecurities and fears regarding her writing. It took years and lots of self assurance and self belief to negate her own scepticism. As she elucidates the process of owning her agency on her creativity, it serves as a manual for all the writers and creative professionals who are stuck and keep questioning their ability to write and create.
Memoirs can be tricky. It can become very indulgent. It’s always a fine line to tread from it not seeming like a boastful venture. However the ingenious and modest, Bernardine Evaristo, does this job with utmost precision. As you read the book, through all her experiences and expertise, you get a sense of humility and grace that’s at the core of her writing and existence. This isn’t one of those flippant and narcissistic autobiographies; instead, it’s intelligent, intuitive and incandescent. You come out of it feeling restful and seen.
~ JUST A GAY BOY. 🤓