Bernardine Evaristo is an award-winning British author and academic. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London.
She was born in London to an English mother and Nigerian father, and has published eight books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora. She notably experiments with form and narrative perspective, often merging the past with the present, fiction with poetry, the factual with the speculative, and reality with alternate realities.
Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe (Penguin, 2001) won an Arts Council Writers’ Award 2000; a NESTA Fellowship Award in 2003; it was chosen by The Times as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade in 2010; and it was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013. Next, Evaristo published Soul Tourists (Penguin, 2005). Her novel Blonde Roots (Penguin, 2008) won the Orange Youth Panel Award and Big Red Read Award, and was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
Evaristo’s other books include the verse novel Lara (Bloodaxe Books, 2009, with an earlier version published in 1997) and won the EMMA Best Novel Award in 1998. Her novella Hello Mum (Penguin, 2010) was chosen as “The Big Read” for the County of Suffolk, and adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. Her 2014 novel Mr Loverman (Penguin UK, 2013/ Akashic Books USA, 2014) won the Publishing Triangle Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction (USA) and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize.
Her eighth book, Evaristo’s most recent novel, Girl, Woman, Other, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in July 2019 and made the Booker Prize shortlist, announced on 3 September 2019, alongside books by Margaret Atwood, Lucy Ellmann, Chigozie Obioma, Salman Rushdie and Elif Shafak, and on 14 October it won the prize jointly with Atwood’s The Testaments. The win made her the first black woman and first black British author to win the prize. Girl, Woman, Other was shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
In 2020, Evaristo was recognized for her writing as one of the United Kingdom’s most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage by being included in the 2021 edition of the annual Power list.
This is a writer who is pushing not just the boundaries of contemporary British writing, but of what it means to be ‘British’.