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Archive by tag: Bernardine EvaristoReturn
Jun 25, 2022

Authors recommend their favourite recent reads, from addictive novels and fascinating cultural history to a game-changing graphic memoir

Bernardine Evaristo
More Fiya: A New Collection of Black British Poetry, edited by Kayo Chingonyi, brings together a wonderful array of outstanding poets whose linguistic flair and wide-ranging perspectives excite, inspire and challenge in equal measure. As a companion, Canongate is also republishing the 1998 anthology The Fire People: A Collection of British Black and Asian Poetry, edited by Lemn Sissay.

Hilary Mantel
A novel featuring the young Joseph Stalin might not sound like summer entertainment, but Stephen May’s Sell Us the Rope is fresh and original: jaunty, cunning, thought-provoking but never solemn. For nonfiction, and a venture into the strange world of coincidence and prediction, try Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau. It’s a book hard to classify, but wholly fascinating: lively, nimble, its subject poised on the frontiers of the possible.

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Jun 05, 2021

Authors share the books they have enjoyed reading this year, including a hilarious dark comedy, poetry and a study of mystery illnesses

Hilary Mantel
Jaap Robben’s Summer Brother, longlisted for the International Booker, has a disabled child at its centre and squares up to dangerous subjects. It is a heartening novel, because though it asks the reader to think hard, it puts its faith in simplicity and love. Neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan offers The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness to put you wise about Havana syndrome and other puzzles: it’s not cheerful, but it is current and it is bracing.

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Jan 30, 2021

The Booker-winning novelist is relaunching a series of neglected novels by black British writers. She explains why they deserve a new readership

In today’s culture, it’s as though black British literary history began relatively recently, and new books are published without reference to or knowledge of what has gone before. This is not the case with white writers. Publishers, critics and readers will often understand where books sit within their literary contexts and cultural ecosystem. We can trace the literary lineage of Douglas Stuart’s Booker-winning Shuggie Bain back to the works of James Kelman and Irvine Welsh. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is in conversation with Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series and all the novels that were published in its wake, just as Ali Smith’s postmodern novels are descendants of Virginia Woolf’s modernist oeuvre. And we know that today’s historical novels have antecedents in their earlier counterparts.

Our appreciation of literature is deepened when we understand the foundations from which each new generation creates literature anew, but because so much of the body of black British literature hasn’t been taught in schools or universities, or immortalised on television and film, or even been widely or seriously reviewed in the media and academia, it’s as if each new book is published out of a void.

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Jun 19, 2020

Ahead of Windrush day, Orwell shortlisted writers Evaristo and Amelia Gentleman talk about politics, art and giving a voice to the powerless

AG: How do you feel about the label “political fiction”? Is there, for a novelist, a wariness about it?

BE: The interesting thing is that I’m not usually called a political writer. And I am a political writer! There is a political underpinning to Girl, Woman, Other, which is to explore as many black British women as possible in a single novel. The intention is for the reader to enjoy the book on the level of story, but at the same time, they’re engaging with all these issues. This is my eighth book, and all of them have been very political in terms of the ideas, the context of my characters and the subversive way in which I’m exploring the Afro-diasporic experience and black British history and society. But the context for my work has altered. After I won the Booker in October, everything changed. People are reading my book now, irrespective of the labels that are imposed on it. So, I’m not concerned that seeing it as “political fiction” will challenge people to such an extent that they won’t want to read it. 

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