Manifesto: On never giving up, by Bernardine Evaristo

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Romantic love. Random sex. Hopeless crushes. Short-lived flings. Proper relationships. All of these experiences contributed to making me the person and writer I became, one for whom the pursuit of freedom was paramount: freedom to move home, freedom from a conventional job, freedom to follow the whims of my sexuality, freedom to jump from one encounter to another, freedom to write experimental fiction. Even when my freedom was seriously curtailed, as it was during one relationship in my twenties, I broke free and carved out the life I wanted for myself again.

This is a tremendously entertaining and thought-provoking short book, the autobiography of the author of Girl, Woman, Other and of The Emperor’s Babe, taking her from childhood in Woolwich to fame and success as a Booker Prize winning author. As with all good autobiographies, there is a fair bit of self-reflection; I found her accounts of her love life (mainly lesbian in her 20s, mainly straight before and since) interesting (other people’s lovel lives are almost always interesting) and I also appreciated her frankness about the shortcomings of some of her earlier books, though I may try and get one or two of them anyway – in particular Blonde Roots, an alternate history which was on the 2008 Artchur C. Clarke Award shortlist. She is also very clear about the impact of racism and sexism on her career, which originally was intended to be on the stage (and she has done a good deal of stage work). Punches well above its weight, as does the writer. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book by a non-white writer. Next on that pile is Goliath, by Tochi Onyebuchi.