cover image Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

Bernardine Evaristo. Grove, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5890-1

Novelist Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other) charts her path from struggling in a working-class family to becoming the first Black British person to win the Booker Prize, in this sprawling memoir. Beckoning readers with a clear-eyed account of her experiences growing up in the 1960s as a mixed-race child to a white British mother and Black Nigerian father in the U.K., she writes, “there was nothing in the British society of my suburban childhood that endorsed the concept of blackness as something positive.” In lithe prose, she tackles her complicated relationship with sexuality (“Queerness is a... statement of freedom and enlightenment”), reminisces on hustling her early books (published by “tiny” presses) into readers’ hands and finding “a room of my own” in her writing later in life, and dispenses advice on cultivating creativity and intergenerational consciousness. Though her personal narrative movingly speaks to themes of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia and how she overcame them, Evaristo’s writing occasionally falls into platitudes, as when she describes how “our books exist as works of art... and once published, they are out there on their own in the world.” Still, readers will find much to ruminate over in this meditation on the power of art and persistence. Agent: Emma Paterson, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Jan.)