Bernardine Evaristo, the first Black woman to win the Booker prize, is writing a memoir about how she “moved from the margins to centre stage” over a career that has spanned more than three decades.
Evaristo’s Manifesto will draw deeply on the award-winning author’s experiences to chart her “creative rebellion against the mainstream and her life-long commitment to the imaginative exploration of ‘untold’ stories”, said publisher Hamish Hamilton, which will release the non-fiction title in October.
“Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker win – the first by a Black woman – was a revolutionary moment for British culture and for her,” said the publisher. Evaristo won the Booker jointly with Margaret Atwood in 2019 for her eighth novel Girl, Woman, Other. Her writing spans fiction, verse fiction, poetry, drama, essays and literary criticism, and she is professor of creative writing at Brunel University London, and vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature.
“It’s been in the works for quite a while,” said the author of Manifesto. “I wanted to write a non-fiction book that looks at how my life and my background and my politics has shaped my creativity and brought me to this place in my career. It’s a great place to be, but it’s been a very long journey, over 40 years. This felt like the right time, having reached this position as a writer, to reflect back on how I got here.”
Hamish Hamilton said the book, which it described as “Bernardine Evaristo’s manifesto for never giving up”, would offer “a vital contribution to current conversations around social issues such as race, class, feminism, sexuality and ageing”.
“I never seriously entertained the idea of giving up because I couldn’t imagine not being a writer, whether I was seen as successful or not,” said Evaristo. “It’s really about looking at how my life and choices have shaped my creativity and determination to keep going.
“I want it to be for the general reader – including people in the arts, but for anyone who’s interested in looking at how we create the lives we want for ourselves, which might mean breaking with convention and tradition, and making choices that might lead to creative fulfilment but not financial success. I do also like the idea that through my experience, people who are struggling in their careers, in the arts, in their lives, might be given hope through my own story over the decades.”