It’s the big British book award guaranteed to get people talking, with Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie among this year’s hopefuls.
And right up with them on the longlist for the Booker Prize for Fiction is Brunel Creative Writing Professor Bernardine Evaristo, with her novel Girl, Woman, Other.
Called by critics ‘a story of our time’, it tells the tangled tales of a group of British black women whose interwoven lives span several decades.
Judges named it this week as one of their ‘Booker’s 13’ novels chosen from 151 as worthy of the £50,000 literary prize.
“Everyone at Aitken Alexander is absolutely thrilled to see Bernardine Evaristo’s exuberant Girl, Woman, Other on this year’s Booker Prize longlist,” said her literary agent. “It is a novel that deserves to be read far and wide, and for years to come.”
Staff at the novel's publisher, Penguin Random House, added: “We are completed delighted at the news that Girl, Woman, Other has made the Booker longlist – Bernardine Evaristo could not be a more deserving author. The longlisting alone has had a big impact on the book's profile, but of course we are also hoping for good news in September as they announce the shortlist.”
Sparking tough questions about gender and race, the book bridges the stages of womanhood from the teenage years to old age. Each chapter starts with a West African Adinkra drawing symbolising its main character. There is Hattie, who at 93 reigns over ‘an ever growing gene pool’ – including Morgan, who used to be Megan. There is single mum and entrepreneur Bummi, and LaTisha, who at 19 ‘got two kids, no man, and [is] feeling overwhelmed by the absolute mess she’d made of her life’.
Written in readable free verse with clever twists and turns, the characters’ lives intersect, building to a surprise ending. Their moving tales of pain, joy and friendship draw from a wide range of backgrounds and heritages: African, Caribbean, European.
The prize is backed for the first time this year by charitable foundation Crankstart, taking over from the Man Group. The shortlist will be announced on 3 September and the winner revealed at a ceremony in London on 14 October.
“Bernadine Evaristo is an author coming into her own,” said the Guardian’s literary editor, Justine Jordan. “Girl, Woman, Other will surely be seen as a landmark in British fiction. Perhaps there are surprises yet to come, starting with the shortlist on 3 September.”
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is published by Hamish Hamilton (£16.99).
Find out more about creative writing at Brunel University London.
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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