Award-winning British writer Bernardine Evaristo is the author of seven books. She is also an editor, critic, dramatist and essayist. Her writing spans the genres of prose novels, verse-novels, a novel-with-verse, a novella, poetry, non-fiction, literary criticism and radio and theatre drama. Her latest novel, Mr Loverman, is about a 74 yr old Caribbean London man who is closet homosexual (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2013 & Akashic Books, USA, 2014). Her writing is characterised by experimentation, daring and subverting the myths of various Afro-diasporic histories and identities. Her fiction, poetry and essays are also published widely in a variety of publications and anthologies.
Her books are: MR LOVERMAN (Penguin, 2013), HELLO MUM (Penguin 2010), LARA (Bloodaxe 2009), BLONDE ROOTS (Penguin 2008), SOUL TOURISTS (Penguin 2005), THE EMPEROR’S BABE (Penguin 2001), the first version of LARA (ARP 1997), ISLAND OF ABRAHAM (Peepal Tree, 1994). For more information visit BOOKS.
Her awards include the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, EMMA Best Book Award, Publishing Triangle Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction (USA), Big Red Read Award, Orange Youth Panel Award, NESTA Fellowship Award and The Arts Council of England Writers’ Award 2000. Her books have been a Notable Book of the Year thirteen times in British newspapers and The Emperor’s Babe was a (London) Times ‘Book of the Decade’. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006, and she received an MBE in the Queens’ Birthday Honours List in 2009.
Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was broadcast as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. Her new novel Mr Loverman was optioned by BBC television drama in 2014. Hello Mum was also selected as one of twenty titles for World Book Night 2014.
She is co-editor of two recent anthologies, NW15 (Granta/British Council) and Ten New Poets (Bloodaxe), and a special issue of Wasafiri magazine: Black Britain: Beyond Definition, which celebrated and reevaluated the black writing scene in Britain. In 2012 she was guest editor of the winter issue of Poetry Review, Britain’s leading poetry journal, in its centenary year. Her issue, Offending Frequencies, featured more poets of colour than had ever previously been published in a single issue of the journal, as well as many female, radical, experimental and outspoken voices. She is guest-editing the September 2014 issue of Mslexia magazine.
Her literary criticism appears in the national newspapers including the Guardian and Independent and she has judged many literary awards. In 2012 she was Chair of both the Caine Prize for African Fiction, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, a judge of Poetry News and the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, and that year she also founded the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, now in its third year. http://www.africanpoetryprize.org/
Since 1997 she has accepted invitations to take part in over 140 international visits and tours as a writer. She gives readings and delivers keynotes, chairs panel discussions and runs creative writing workshops and courses. Since 1994 she has also toured the UK widely.
The first monograph on her work, Fiction Unbound by Sebnem Toplu, was published in August 2011 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. http://www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Fiction-Unbound–Bernardine-Evaristo1-4438-3153-0.htm . A second monograph by Ester Gendusa was published in Italy in 2015.
Bernardine’s books have been translated into several languages including Czech, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian & Mandarin.
She is a staunch and longstanding advocate for artists and writers of colour and has initiated schemes to ensure that they are heard and represented in the creative industries. Her recent literary projects include the Free Verse Report, The Complete Works mentoring scheme, the Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the British Centre for Black and Asian Writing, which will launch in September 2015.
Bernardine Evaristo was born in Woolwich, south east London, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother and Nigerian father. Her father was a welder and local Labour councillor and her mother a schoolteacher. She was educated at Eltham Hill Girls Grammar School, the Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned a PhD in Creative Writing. She spent her teenage years acting at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre. From October 2015 she will be Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, where she is currently Reader in Creative Writing.
She lives in London with her husband.