Girl, Woman, Other: a tale of 12 women and modern mores

Bernardine Evaristo fillets race and politics in Britain in an innovative and seductive way

Bernardine Evaristo: challenges our comfortable preconceptions. Photograph: The Booker Prize/PA

Bernardine Evaristo: challenges our comfortable preconceptions. Photograph: The Booker Prize/PA

Bernardine Evaristo’s eighth work of fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is one of those books that makes the reader ask “Where have you been all my life?” and rush out for the author’s backlist. Perhaps coming to a writer afresh when their talent is fully formed makes the effect all the more dramatic – if so, then the new readership Evaristo will justifiably gain from her shortlisting will be thrilled.

Evaristo sets out her stall from the title: this is a populous, expansive, inclusive book: everyone is welcome. The structure is to tell the stories of 12 (mostly black) women in Britain over the last century, each in her own chapter but with connections and crossovers throughout.

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