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‘The Guardian’ Interviews Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo: ‘I want to put presence into absence’

The British writer on bringing more black female characters into fiction, her experimental style, and exploring non-mainstream history

By Anita Sethi

Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning British-Nigerian author of eight books. Born in London in 1959, she is professor of creative writing at Brunel University London and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her new novel Girl, Woman, Other spans 20th- and 21st-century Britain and features 12 interconnected characters, mostly women, black and British.

Your new novel focuses closely on people who are often ‘othered’. What were your motivations?
I wanted to put presence into absence. I was very frustrated that black British women weren’t visible in literature. I whittled it down to 12 characters – I wanted them to span from a teenager to someone in their 90s, and see their trajectory from birth, though not linear. There are many ways in which otherness can be interpreted in the novel – the women are othered in so many ways and sometimes by each other. I wanted it to be identified as a novel about women as well. Read the full interview at The Guardian.

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