Bernardine Evaristo

One of Elif Shafak’s selected writers for the International Literature Showcase

“Bernardine Evaristo is one of those writers who should be read by everyone, everywhere. Her tales marry down-to-earth characters with engrossing story lines about identity, and the UK of today.” – Elif Shafak

<< Explore Elif’s list of great UK women writers


Afro Saxon Amazon, experimenter, comedy & tragedy, activist for inclusion

Bernardine Evaristo jointly won the Booker Prize 2019 with her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other, making her the first black woman to win the prize in its history. It was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks. Her writing explores the African diaspora: past, present, real imagined and includes novels Mr Loverman (2014) and Blonde Roots (2008). She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and its current Vice Chair. She received an OBE in 2020 and an MBE in 2009. In October 2021, her first non-fiction book, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, will be published by Penguin UK.


‘If you don’t yet know her work, you should – she says things about modern Britain that no one else does’ — Guardian on Mr Loverman

‘I’m a fan of Evaristo, who can take any story from any time and give it a new or unexpected shape, turn it into something vibrating with life, always with a great deal of witty fun and mischief.’ Ali Smith, Scotsman on Sunday

‘Beyond her pithy prose and engaging characters, Evaristo, as she did with The Emperor’s Babe, tells a hugely imaginative tale that invites important debate, challenging fundamental perceptions of race, culture and history.’ Independent on Sunday on Blonde Roots

‘Evaristo revels in meshing time frames, juggling spoken and narrative registers, fusing the glaringly incompatible, and here, flipping between free-style verse, prose and dramatic dialogue. The secret of her alchemical touch lies in transforming this experimentation into funky yarns so tantalising you want to devour them.’ The Guardian on Soul Tourists

‘Lara is a short, lyrical, vividly real novel-in-verse, dipping 150 years into the past to explore the family history of a British woman with a Nigerian father and English mother. It’s funny, touching, informative, passionate and very easy to read. If you’re tired of novels that all seem the same, this one’s a complete original.’ Telegraph on Lara.

“I welcome all opportunities to reach a wider audience and I’m delighted that Elif Shafak included me in her list.” – Bernardine

Image credit Jennie Scott

Bibliography

Books

  • 2021 – Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, Penguin UK / Grove Atlantic USA (2022)
  • 2019 – Girl, Woman, Other, Penguin
  • 2013 – Mr Loverman (prose novel), Hamish-Hamilton/Penguin UK Published by Akashic Books, USA (2014) Translated into Italian, published by Playground, Italy (2015) Produced as an unabridged audio book by Blackstone USA (2014) Produced as an unabridged audio book by W.F. Howes UK (2013)
  • 2010 – Hello Mum (novella), Hamish-Hamilton/Penguin UK Adapted by the myself into the Friday Play, BBC Radio 4 (2013) Published as a BBC large print edition (2010) Selected as a title for World Book Night & a special edition published (April 2014) Produced as an unabridged audio book by Ulverscroft (2015)
  • 2009 – Lara (verse novel), new edition., revised & expanded by a third, Bloodaxe Books
  • 2008 – Blonde Roots (prose novel), Hamish-Hamilton/Penguin UK Published by Riverhead/Penguin USA (2009) Translated into Hungarian, published by Kukutanno, Hungary (2008) Produced as an unabridged audio book by W.F. Howes (2009)
  • 2005 – Soul Tourists (novel-with-verse), Penguin UK Translated into Mandarin, published by Sichuan Publishing House of Literature & Arts, China (2010)
  • 2001 – The Emperor’s Babe (verse novel), Hamish-Hamilton/Penguin UK Published by Viking/Penguin USA (2002) Translated into Czech, published by Cisarovo Kote (Czech Republic) Translated into Finnish, published by Johnny Kniga (Finland) Adapted by Jonathan Holloway into the Friday Play, BBC Radio 4 (2013)
  • 1997 – Lara (verse novel, first edition), Angela Royal Publishing UK
  • 1994 – Island of Abraham (poetry collection), Peepal Tree Press UK PLUS inclusion in many anthologies etc.

Other works include short stories, essays, poetry, literary criticism, stage and BBC radio writing.

Bernardine has edited several publications and is currently curating Black Britain: Writing Back, a new book series with Penguin UK re-publishing books which have been out of circulation. Her literary criticism appears in many national newspapers and magazines, she has judged many literary awards including chairing the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, and is on the Editorial Board of the African Poetry Book Fund (USA) for all its publications and prizes.

Lifetime Fellowships

  • International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2021
  • Honorary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford University, 2020
  • Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, 2018
  • Honorary Fellow of the English Association, 2017
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, 2006
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 2004

Awards

Bernardine Evaristo jointly won the Booker Prize 2019 with her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other, making her the first black woman to win the prize in its history. The novel also won many other prizes including the British Book Award’s Fiction Book of the Year & Author of the Year, and the Indie Book Award for Fiction. It was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks, the first woman of colour to achieve this position in the paperback fiction chart, spending 44 weeks in the Top 10.

Bernardine has received many awards, nominations and honours, including being voted one of 100 Great Black Britons in 2020.

Other achievements

Bernardine joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature in 2016, was Vice Chair from 2017-2020, and became a lifetime Vice President in 2020. In 2021 she took on the role of the new President of Rose Bruford College. She received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 and an MBE in 2009.

A longstanding advocate for the inclusion of writers of colour, Bernardine founded the Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2012 and The Complete Works poets development scheme in 2007.

Contact Bernardine

Personal

Twitter: @BernardineEvari

Instagram: bernardineevaristowriter

Agent

Emma Paterson, Aitken Alexander

Publisher

Hamish Hamilton, Anna Ridley