Evaristo is able to skilfully depict the lives of the various women who feature in ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, the richness of their inner lives is skilfully drawn out by Evaristo, from the nonagenarian landowner Hattie, to the young single mother in London with three children from different fathers, to the high-flying Carole whose life seems to be a perpetual attempt to escape her blackness, or Yazz who is trying to find her identity beneath the multitude of labels which are thrust on her (woman, black, middle-class) and her mother Amma, the fierce playwright whose premier for her latest play acts as the backdrop for the various characters whose narratives appear in the novel to intersect and meet.
Evaristo’s greatest skill is in her ability to realistically render the lives of the characters who appear in the novel and allow them a sense of depth which is so often denied to black women in fiction. Not only this, but the sheer of variety of stories and background and her ability to allow us to empathise with each of the characters, no matter how dislikeable some of their actions may be; whether it be the the snooty and mildly racist Penelope who remains blissfully unaware of her own black ancestry or to the domineering Nzinga, whose subjugation of Dominique reflects the very toxic masculinity she is so bent on fighting against but which masks a deep-seated sense of insecurity and self-loathing.
That Evaristo is able to sensitively and skilfully portray such a kaleidoscope of characters, to colour and illuminate their lives with such brilliance, to not only avoid the stereotypes which are so often associated with the characters who appear in her novel, but to upend them, to give a voice, personality and soul to under-represented women whose live she depicts, is testament to her acuity and ingenuity as a storyteller, one whose voice and style is unique in a backdrop and culture which is a rarely represented. Not only that, but Evaristo is able to navigate and explore the various topics which impact black women today, form intersectionality, to Westernised sense of beauty, to the sexualization of black women or the multiple barriers which they are forced to circumnavigate in order to succeed in a society where they have been set-up to fail. However, it would be unfair to describe ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ as just being a book which merely focuses on gender or identity politics, instead it represents the work of a brilliant artist at the height of her powers and an unrivalled depiction of life in modern Britain.