Since becoming the first black woman to win The Booker Prize, Brunel creative writing Professor Bernardine Evaristo’s rise seems stratospheric.
But her stellar success at sixty didn’t come on a plate. Quite the reverse. Bernardine – as she says in her new memoir – came from no position of privilege.
Manifesto On Never Giving Up charts the trailblazing teacher, writer and activist’s 30-year-long move from the margins to the middle of the media’s literary universe.
Out today, the intimate, no-holds-barred account tells how she got there, refusing to let any barriers stand in her way.
“I wanted to explore my life through the context of my creativity,” she said, “and what it took to keep going and eventually break through globally at the age of sixty.
“I hope to inspire people to never give up in pursuing their vocation.”
Sexuality, smashing the patriarchy, abuse and the joys of ‘a room of one’s own’ all come into play as Bernardine draws on her own experiences, highlighting issues of race, class, feminism, sexuality and aging.
Manifesto’s message is about staying true to yourself and to your vision, how to be unstoppable – in your craft, your work, your life and never giving up.
Bernardine, who says she now sees her life as ‘100% better’ than when starting her early career, said her ninth book came with its own set of challenges. “As it’s a memoir devised to look at my creativity through the prism of my life, I had to make hard decisions about what to keep in and what to leave out.”
The writer, whose novel Girl, Woman, Other about the African diaspora made history when it jointly won the 2019 Booker Prize, also became in 2020 the first woman of colour and Black British writer to reach number one in the UK paperback fiction chart. Her writing spans reviews, essays, drama and radio, including guest-editing The Sunday Times Style magazine.
Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin £14.99)
Image: Suki Dhana