There are some novels that have such a powerful voice that you can hear the words as they appear on the page; a voice that sticks in the crevices of your mind and you find your own thoughts taking on the rhythm for hours after you’ve stopped reading. Girl, Woman, Other is a novel with voice, Evaristo using grammar and punctuation (or a conventional lack thereof) to perfect effect.
As we move through the twelve characters, the links between each individual becoming clear, a story of the black British (and mostly female) experience begins to emerge. This experience is not generic but incredibly broad and diverse. Evaristo’s characters navigate racism and social hierarchy, perhaps embodied in playwright Amma’s ultimate success of having a play staged at the National Theatre.
Amma then spent decades on the fringe, a renegade lobbing the grenades at the establishment that excluded her
until the mainstream began to absorb what was once radical and she found herself hopeful of joining it
which only happened when the first female artistic director assumed the helm of the National three years ago
after so long hearing a polite no from her predecessors, she received a phone call just after breakfast one Monday morning when her life stretched emptily ahead with only online television dramas to look forward to
love the script, must do it, will you also direct it for us?
But Evaristo reminds us again and again that all black women are not the same or want the same things. Corporate high-flyer Carol is unimpressed by the play:
‘it was so odd seeing a stage full of black women tonight… a first, although rather than feel validated, she felt slightly embarrassed
if only the play was about the first black woman prime minister of Britain, or a Nobel prize-winner for science, or a self-made billionaire, someone who represented legitimate success at the highest levels, instead of lesbian warriors strutting around and falling for each other’.
This book is a fantastic depiction of the nuances of life, and a deserving winner of the Booker Prize.