Bernardine Evaristo

Booker Prize-winning Novelist
Acclaimed Essayist
Social Critic

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • How To Tell A Story 
  • On Character
  • Fiery Inspiration
  • An Evening with Bernardine Evaristo 


“Bernardine Evaristo uncovers characters lost to history and myth and with compassion, an original and brilliant voice, and an unparalleled craft—all tinged with humor—she restores them and thus us.” —Chris Abani

“Her style is passionate, razor-sharp, brimming with energy and humor. There is never a single moment of dullness in this book and the pace does not allow you to turn away from its momentum.” —Booker Prize judges

“Evaristo has a gift for appraising the lives of her characters with sympathy and grace while gently skewering some of their pretensions . . . Evaristo’s lines are long, like Walt Whitman’s or Allen Ginsberg’s, and there are no periods at the ends of them. There’s a looseness to her tone that gives this novel its buoyancy. Evaristo’s wit helps too.” —The New York Times

Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. In her new “fusion fiction” novel, Girl, Woman, Other, which won the 2019 Booker Prize alongside Margaret Atwood, 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. Her writing is celebrated for its experimentation, daring, subversion, and challenging the myths of Afro-diasporic identities and histories. Evaristo 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.”

Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. In 2015 she wrote and presented a two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary called Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement. Evaristo has edited several publications and her literary criticism appears in national newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The New York Times Literary Supplement, The New York Observer, The New York Times, The Independent and The New Statesman. She has received several honors and awards and her books have been a Notable Book of the Year thirteen times in British newspapers, while The Emperor’s Babe was a London Times Book of the Decade. Evaristo was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006, a Fellow of the English Association in 2017 and a Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in 2018. She received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009. She joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature in 2016 and became Vice Chair in 2017.

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. She is reconnecting to the home town she left at eighteen and writing about it. Her books have been translated into several languages including Czech, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian & Mandarin. Evaristo is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. She lives in London with her husband.

Bernardine Evaristo Website 


Writer Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. In her new “fusion fiction” novel, Girl, Woman, Other, which won the 2019 Booker Prize alongside Margaret Atwood, 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. Her writing is celebrated for its experimentation, daring, subversion, and challenging the myths of Afro-diasporic identities and histories. Evaristo 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.”Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. She lives in London with her husband.


GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER (Novel, 2019)

“This masterful novel is a choral love song to black womanhood.” —Elle (UK)

“Girl, Woman, Other received half a Booker Prize, but it deserves all the glory . . . A breathtaking symphony of black women’s voices, a clear-eyed survey of contemporary challenges that’s nevertheless wonderfully life-affirming . . . Together, all these women present a cross-section of Britain that feels godlike in its scope and insight.” —The Washington Post

“Girl, Woman, Other, the intermingling stories of generations of black British women told in a gloriously rich and readable free verse, will surely be seen as a landmark in British fiction.” —The Guardian

Girl, Woman, Other is 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. The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

MR LOVERMAN (Novel, 2013)

“Evaristo’s confident control of the language, her vibrant use of humor, rhythm and poetry, and the realistic mix of Caribbean patois with both street and the Queen’s English . . . fix characters in the reader’s mind.” —The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Mr Loverman is a ground-breaking exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community which explodes cultural myths and fallacies and shows the extent of what can happen when people fear the consequences of being true to themselves. Barrington Jedidiah Walker is seventy-four and leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he’s lived in Hackney since the sixties. A flamboyant, wise-cracking local character with a dapper taste in retro suits and a fondness for quoting Shakespeare, Barrington is a husband, father and grandfather – but he is also secretly homosexual, lovers with his great childhood friend, Morris. His deeply religious and disappointed wife, Carmel, thinks he sleeps with other women. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington wants to divorce Carmel and live with Morris, but after a lifetime of fear and deception, will he manage to break away?

BLONDE ROOTS (Novel, 2008)
Evaristo’s first fully-prose novel Blonde Roots is an original and often satirical take on slavery in which Africans are the masters and Europeans are their slaves. The protagonist is a captured white woman from Europa who tries to escape slavery in the United Kingdom of Great Ambossa.

HELLO MUM (Novella, 2010)
An epistolary novella told in the voice of a 14 year old boy writing to his mother who lives on a London estate and gets into trouble with a gang. In this fiction the issue of gang culture is neither demonised or glamourised. Instead, his story deepens our understanding of the context of his life and the decisions he makes that shapes it. Evaristo was the Suffolk Big Read author in 2010 and 40,000 copies of Hello Mum were distributed throughout the county including to every school. Over 70,000 copies of the novella have been sold to date, through non-traditional outlets.

LARA (Novel, 2009)
A semi-autobiographical verse novel based on the author’s family history. The cover photograph is of her parents’ wedding day in Camberwell, London, 1955. (This new edition of the book is revised and expanded by a third from the 1997 edition.) The novel travels back over 150 years, seven generations and three continents. The eponymous Lara grows up as the mixed raced daughter of an Englishwoman and a Nigerian man in London of the 60s and 70s, and the novel shifts backwards from the past to the present, including the stories of her parent’s childhood and inter-racial marriage and her predecessors in England, Nigeria, Ireland, Germany and Brazil.


Read Op-Ed “These are unprecedented times for black female writers”— The Guardian

An Execerpt of Girl, Woman, Other — Literary Hub

GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER (excerpt)

that night she dreamed of employing an army of women cleaners who would set forth across the planet on a mission to clean up all the damage done to the environment

they came from all over Africa and from North and South America, they came from India and China and all over Asia, they came from Europe and the Middle East, from Oceania, and from the Arctic, too

she imagined them all descending in their millions on the Niger Delta and driving out the oil companies with their mop and broom handles transformed into spears and poison-tipped swords and machine-guns

she imagined them demolishing all the equipment used for oil production, including the flare stacks that rose into the skies to burn the natural gas, her cleaners setting charges underneath each one, detonating from a safe distance and watching them being blown up

she imagined the local people cheering and celebrating with dancing, drumming and roasted fish

she imagined the international media filming it—CNN, BBC, NBC

she imagined the government unable to mobilize the poorly paid local militia because they were terrified by the sheer numbers of her Worldwide Army of Women Cleaners

who could vaporize them with their superhuman powers

afterwards, she imagined legions of singing women sifting the rivers and creeks to remove the thick slicks of grease that had polluted them, and digging up the land until they’d removed the toxic sublayers of soil

she imagined the skies opening when the job was done and the pouring of pure water from the now hygienic clouds for as long as it took for the region to be thoroughly cleansed and replenished

she imagined her father, Moses, a simple fisherman, steering his canoe through the transparent waters of the creeks, a man who was still supporting his family in the dignified tradition of their ancestors

she imagined her mama, in good health, taking it easy while farmhands looked after their land

which had not been stolen by his relatives because Moses had not died

she imagined Augustine, a Green Finance Economist coming up the garden path of their house wearing a business suit and with a smart briefcase

returning from chairing his latest Economics and the Environment conference at the United Nations in Geneva or New York