‘The longform patriarchs and their accomplices’ by Bernadine Evaristo

Bernadine Evaristo’s 2020 Goldsmiths prize lecture is a manifesto for the future of literature. She deconstructs the literary canon through a revised history of the novel, from oral storytelling in Africa to the gatekeepers of the contemporary publishing world. She writes about the necessity of decolonising the curriculum and expanding our idea of ‘literature’ which has traditionally been published by the elite. She writes that, “the novel is thriving because of the fresh perspectives and narratives infusing it with new ideas, stories, cultures, life” and examines what it would mean for our bookshelves to be truly inclusive. This is a searing, timely essay which deserves a place on every university reading list.

New Statesman/Goldsmiths Prize lecture, October 2020. Available online here

‘Epilogue’ by Bernardine Evaristo

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say it, but when I read Girl, Woman, Other, I read it as a series of connected short stories, or at least that’s what it felt like to me; including the epilogue. Of course, you could argue that the epilogue doesn’t make sense to standalone on its own, but I think it does (and of course it’s even cleverer when you realise all the strands from all the previous stories are suddenly coming together). What I love about it is just how bursting with tenderness it is. In a way, to me at least, it reads like the love story of a woman in her eighties who finally finds a missing piece of herself; how it is about the importance of knowing yourself, of being together.

First published as part of Girl, Woman, Other, Penguin 2019