Bernardine Evaristo

British writer Bernardine Evaristo is the author of ten books and numerous writings that span the genres of fiction, verse fiction, short fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism, journalism, and radio and theatre drama. Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. Her first non-fiction book, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, was published by Penguin UK in October 2021 & it will be published by Grove Atlantic USA, January 2022. Her second non-fiction book, Feminism (Look Again series, Tate Publishing, Nov. 2021) is a survey of the representation of women of colour in British art, responding to a major rehang of Tate Britain, the National Collection of British Art, due in 2023.

Bernardine’s novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize 2019, the first black woman and black British person to win it in its fifty year history.  The novel also won many other prizes including the British Book Award’s Fiction Book of the Year & Author of the Year, and the Indie Book Award for Fiction. It was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks, the first woman of colour to achieve this position in the paperback fiction chart, spending 44 weeks in the Top 10. There are now nearly 60 translations of Bernardine’s books published and in progress.

She has received many awards, nominations and honours, including being voted one of 100 Great Black Britons in 2020 and making the Black Powerlist 100 in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, she was the 151st honoree on The Bookseller’s Powerlist 150, making her their defacto Person of the Year.

She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and her lifetime fellowships include: Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 2004; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, 2006; Honorary Fellow of the English Association, 2017; Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, 2018, taking on the role of President in 2021, succeeding Sir Richard Eyre; Honorary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford University, 2020; and International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2021. She is a Forbes ’50 over 50′ honoree for 2022 for the Europe, Middle East, & Africa region. Bernardine joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) in 2016, was Vice Chair from 2017-2020, became a lifetime Vice President in 2020, and she was selected as its 19th President in November 2021 (tenure: 2022-2026), succeeding Dame Marina Warner. She is the second woman and first writer of colour to hold the position since the RSL was founded in 1820. She received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009 and an OBE in 2020.

 

Bernardine is the subject of two major arts documentary series: The Southbank Show, with Melvyn Bragg (Sky Arts, 2020) and Imagine, with Alan Yentob (BBC, 2021); and she was also interviewed on This  Cultural Life, with John Wilson (BBC4, November 2021). In 2015 she wrote and presented a two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary called Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement. Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012.

She has edited several publications and is currently curating Black Britain: Writing Back, a new book series with Penguin UK re-publishing books which have been out of circulation. The first six books, all novels, were published on February 4th 2021. The oldest book on the list is Minty Alley (1936) by C.L.R. James. The second series of books was published in February 2022. Her literary criticism appears in many national newspapers and magazines, she has judged many literary awards and is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund (USA) for all its publications and prizes.

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