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  • Catriona Fida

Manifesto: On Never Giving Up


From Booker Prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo, comes a memoir reflecting on her life and career as a writer. She writes about her upbringing with her white Catholic mother and Nigerian father, her sexuality, journey with activism and the road to literary success.


If there’s one thing that always attracts me to an audiobook, it’s when the author is also the narrator and I do think it’s worth getting the audiobook to this if you can. Bernardine is a direct narrator, clearly trained as a teacher, and hearing her relay the events of her own life has made me appreciate the themes and messages of her books even more. I can’t comment on how well this is written, since I listened to it, but I liked the chronological structure, culminating in her Booker win, and overall felt it was an engaging listen - even for someone who hasn’t read many of her works. I have heard that the writing style reads as less engaging than her works of fiction, but that might not be a fair comparison given their completely different contents.


If you’re a creative person in a slump I’d recommend giving this book a read/listen. Girl, Woman, Other was what propelled Evaristo into the public eye, that she admits herself, but this memoir details her long and successful career leading up to that moment which is much less documented. It was interesting to hear about some of the inspirations for her books as well as the life events that have shaped her views, politics and approach to writing. Bernardine’s commitment to her craft is inspiring and I found it particularly refreshing to hear her reflect on what it was like to achieve her biggest success to date, winning the Booker, while in her early sixties. It’s a true lesson in not seeing age as a limitation and in pursuing a lifelong career because it fulfils you, rather than because of aspirations for commercial recognition.


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