Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
Publishers: One-world publications
Genre(s): Contemporary / Literary fiction. Women’s fiction.
Rating: 5 stars
I never knew I would be one to enjoy experimental styles of writing until I read the book Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
The beauty of this book lies not with the stories -although those are very interesting- but in how she tells it. Each character’s life is unique and can stand on its own yet blends seamlessly with that of one or more other characters – much like what is obtainable real life. Having access to these multiple POVs reveals various biases, blind spots and events that have shaped the characters philosophy and helps us to understand each character better.
WORTHY OF MENTION
There are adinkra symbols attached to each chapter and character. You can literally decipher the personality of each character by figuring out the meaning beforehand. The good news is that the good people at adinkra.org have done all the work for you, so it’s easy to look up the meanings.
Also, the author broke the rules of traditional prose writing by leaving out punctuation marks such as full stops and inverted commas. In essence, the sentences read like free verse. In case you are wondering, it’s not as challenging as it sounds. At first, you might have to stumble around a few pages trying to figure it out, but you’ll get used to it, and then you will wish the story never ends.
I was also impressed by the subtle way the author prompts the reader to think about a number of political and social issues prevalent in today’s society without throwing her weight for / against any side. She spotlights the possiblity of domestic violence in LGBTQ+ relationships and raises issues like :
- What constitutes privilege?
- Is there a hard and fast rule to being a feminist?
- Why is polyamory treated differently when practiced by women?
The author was able to show that apart from the biological traits common to the female gender, there is no single way to be a black British woman and every woman deserves to be respected for who she is.
More importantly, the story addresses the need for women to stop judging and fighting each other because despite our differences, we all want the same things namely; success, happiness, love and respect. It is no conincidence that the Adinkra symbol attached to the title of the book is that of the Siamese Crocodiles – a symbol of Democracy and Unity.
Have you read this yet? What did you think of it?