“Girl, Woman, Other”

Bernadine Evaristo’s “Girl, Woman, Other” is – quite simply – a triumph.

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read it. Perhaps I was put-off by its 450 pages, or the blurb, or the cover – the last two of these suggesting that somehow it wasn’t going to be ‘my thing’. But it is a marvellously contemporary page-turner. A depiction of the lives of twelve inter-related characters – straight, gay, trans, young, old, but all female – which offers us more than simple exposition; Evaristo gives us x-rays of them, of our country, and – by association – of us too.

What struck me most of all about “Girl, Woman, Other” was its sheer humanity.

About half-way through reading the book I happened to watch Alan Yentob’s interview with Evaristo in his “Imagine” series (his interviews with Kazuo Ishiguro and Tom Stoppard are worth watching too). It helps to root Evaristo the person in the characters about whom she writes, echoes of her own life redrafted in them.

It was also heartening to discover that, having written for decades, she should finally be recognised as a talent into her sixties – suggesting there is hope for all of us..!