Not a proper review, just a short note to say … Heaven knows the Booker jury doesn’t always get it right IMHO, but wow, this time for once they absolutely did — in fact, I hope and expect that looking back, it will come to be regarded as one of the most influential books of the 2010s (or even the first quarter of the 21st century). A group of women from different ethnic, social and professional backgrounds — each for herself — define and mark out their place in life and society: If you haven’t already read this, run, don’t walk to get it. And though initially I was going to say “especially if you’re a woman (and from a minority)” — no, I’m actually going to make that, “especially if you’re a white man”. It’s not perfect (the “surprise” ending is blatantly telegraphed about 10 miles ahead of its arrival), but whatever comparatively minor flaws one might find, this one-of-a-kind canvas is by far one of the most prescient and insightful contributions to the current debate on race and gender relationships and is sure to stand the test of time.
Also, and by way of more than a minor aside, I equally highly recommend the audio version narrated by Anna-Maria Nabirye, which is excellent in its own right and makes the story somewhat easier to follow, because Evaristo’s fragmented approach to building sentences and paragraphs is not in evidence there.
Bernardine Evaristo talking to Nicola Sturgeon at the 2020 Edinburgh Book Festival (August 22, 2020):