cover image Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other

Bernardine Evaristo. Black Cat, $17 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5698-3

Evaristo (Mr. Loverman) beguiles with her exceptional depictions of a range of experiences of black British women in this Man Booker–shortlisted novel. Each interconnected chapter focuses on one of 12 women across decades within a few degrees of connection to middle-aged lesbian Amma. In the present, Amma remembers her years of precarious living and feminist agitation through theater while preparing for the opening night of her of her play about African Amazonian warriors at the National Theatre. Amma’s firebrand daughter, Yazz, hopes for a boyfriend at university but instead forms a diverse friend group that challenges her ideas about race and privilege. Amma’s best friend, Dominique, moves to America with an increasingly controlling girlfriend. Amma’s oldest friend, Shirley, is a discouraged schoolteacher, still hurt that her former student Carole did not appreciate her help launching her toward her lucrative, if frustrating, bank career. Shirley’s prickly colleague Penelope, a twice-divorced middle-class woman, hires Carole’s mother, Bummi, a Nigerian immigrant, as a cleaner. Morgan, a non-binary social media personality, enjoys laboring on the family’s north England farm, while their nonagenarian great-grandmother, Hattie, internally grumbles about her descendants’ indifference and the shock of family secrets. Hattie’s deceased mother, Grace, proudly Abyssinian, struggles with the death of her young children in a chapter set in the 1920s. The after-party following Amma’s play sparks awkward and revealing encounters between many of the women. Evaristo’s fresh, clipped style adds urgency riddled with sparks of humor. This is a stunning powerhouse of vibrant characters and heartbreaks. [em]Agent: Emma Paterson; Aitken Alexander (Dec.) [/em]