In this episode of Talks at GS, author Bernardine Evaristo discusses her Booker Prize-winning book Girl, Woman, Other and the crucial role literature plays in educating people on racial equity and Black history.
On tapping into a moment with Girl, Woman, Other: “There was a generation of young women coming of age, in particular women of color, who were connecting globally, who were becoming powerful, were being listened to by the mainstream media and who were saying: ‘We are as important as anybody else and we want to be heard in this society. We want to participate in this society at every level and survive.’ So I began the book in 2013 and by about 2017, I thought, actually this book is suddenly really topical - and I don't think it was when I started it because we were still at a stage where, in a sense, tokenism was ripe in the publishing industry. And we just weren't interested in the multiplicity of our voices. So, by the time the book came of age and it was published, it totally hit the moment.”
On the role of literature in education: “It opens up the world to us and takes us outside of our own lives and our own points of view. We talk about literature, generating empathy and that's true – it does because you're stepping inside someone else's shoes. When you're reading a novel, you're actually engaging in the act of committing to understanding stories that are not your own stories. And I think fiction is one of the forms in which we can draw on people's emotions and you will hopefully by you're expanding your mind and expanding your worldview. And that's a good thing.”