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Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

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From the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo's memoir of her own life and writing, and her manifesto on unstoppability, creativity, and activism Bernardine Evaristo's 2019 Booker Prize win was a historic and revolutionary occasion, with Evaristo being the first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the priz From the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo's memoir of her own life and writing, and her manifesto on unstoppability, creativity, and activism Bernardine Evaristo's 2019 Booker Prize win was a historic and revolutionary occasion, with Evaristo being the first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the prize in its fifty-year history. Girl, Woman, Other was named a favorite book of the year by President Obama and Roxane Gay, was translated into thirty-five languages, and has now reached more than a million readers. Evaristo's astonishing nonfiction debut, Manifesto, is a vibrant and inspirational account of Evaristo's life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream and fought over several decades to bring her creative work into the world. With her characteristic humor, Evaristo describes her childhood as one of eight siblings, with a Nigerian father and white Catholic mother, tells the story of how she helped set up Britain's first Black women's theatre company, remembers the queer relationships of her twenties, and recounts her determination to write books that were absent in the literary world around her. She provides a hugely powerful perspective to contemporary conversations around race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging. She reminds us of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. In Manifesto, Evaristo charts her theory of unstoppability, showing creative people how they too can visualize and find success in their work, ignoring the naysayers. Both unconventional memoir and inspirational text, Manifesto is a unique reminder to us all to persist in doing work we believe in, even when we might feel overlooked or discounted. Evaristo shows us how we too can follow in her footsteps, from first vision, to insistent perseverance, to eventual triumph.


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From the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo's memoir of her own life and writing, and her manifesto on unstoppability, creativity, and activism Bernardine Evaristo's 2019 Booker Prize win was a historic and revolutionary occasion, with Evaristo being the first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the priz From the bestselling and Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo's memoir of her own life and writing, and her manifesto on unstoppability, creativity, and activism Bernardine Evaristo's 2019 Booker Prize win was a historic and revolutionary occasion, with Evaristo being the first Black woman and first Black British person ever to win the prize in its fifty-year history. Girl, Woman, Other was named a favorite book of the year by President Obama and Roxane Gay, was translated into thirty-five languages, and has now reached more than a million readers. Evaristo's astonishing nonfiction debut, Manifesto, is a vibrant and inspirational account of Evaristo's life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream and fought over several decades to bring her creative work into the world. With her characteristic humor, Evaristo describes her childhood as one of eight siblings, with a Nigerian father and white Catholic mother, tells the story of how she helped set up Britain's first Black women's theatre company, remembers the queer relationships of her twenties, and recounts her determination to write books that were absent in the literary world around her. She provides a hugely powerful perspective to contemporary conversations around race, class, feminism, sexuality, and aging. She reminds us of how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. In Manifesto, Evaristo charts her theory of unstoppability, showing creative people how they too can visualize and find success in their work, ignoring the naysayers. Both unconventional memoir and inspirational text, Manifesto is a unique reminder to us all to persist in doing work we believe in, even when we might feel overlooked or discounted. Evaristo shows us how we too can follow in her footsteps, from first vision, to insistent perseverance, to eventual triumph.

30 review for Manifesto: On Never Giving Up

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henk

    A vibrant account about the background of the writer, her path through life, love, the publishing industry and society at large. Evaristo her voice is as captivating as ever and her message is both important and uplifting. At nineteen I was already determined to lead an alternative live. Having grown up in an unconventional household, I learned to wear my outsider status with pride. In Manifesto: On Never Giving Up 2019 Booker prize winner Bernardine Evaristo tells her personal tale. Her childhood A vibrant account about the background of the writer, her path through life, love, the publishing industry and society at large. Evaristo her voice is as captivating as ever and her message is both important and uplifting. At nineteen I was already determined to lead an alternative live. Having grown up in an unconventional household, I learned to wear my outsider status with pride. In Manifesto: On Never Giving Up 2019 Booker prize winner Bernardine Evaristo tells her personal tale. Her childhood, growing up in a family with 8 children and her the middle child, with a white mother and an authoritative father from Nigeria, encompasses the first chapter. We get to know that her Yoruba first name is Mobalaji, and how the values of her father, being a Labour councilor, and her mother who was a kindhearted schoolteacher, shaped her. The 12 rooms home where she grew up made me think of the Weasley's Burrow, but the fact that the windows were often thrown in, make the image less idyllic. Class, racism and sexism permeate the book, for instance the razor sharp memory of a schoolmate coming to Bernardine gleefully with the statistic that 75% of the student body wouldn’t want to live besides a colored family. About sowing her own clothes in the last classes of high school, making her a stand out appearance, she writes: Rather like the plays and books would someday write, I decided to create the things I convinced myself I needed to have in life. Also endearing is her quoting from 55 year old school rapports, that already show her character clearly. From a crowded home Bernardine moves out, struggling part time jobs and moving from decrepit home to attics till her forties (I wasn’t tied to a mortgage, but I was at the mercy of landlords). But also her real calling comes into the picture: Writing became a room of my own; writing became my permanent home. Evaristo talks frankly about her love life (I had spent the relationship in longing, and I believed that to be in longing was to be in love), swinging from men to women to men again. The relationship she describes with the twice as old "the mental dominatrix" is familiar to anyone who read the first few chapters of Girl, Woman, Other. The ending to this relationship was cathartic and empowering for the author nearing her thirties: There was no guilt because a violent person doesn’t deserve loyalty and How many times do we beat ourselves up when we’re the ones being treated unfairly? Her writing kicks off with poetry, which I was unaware of. The description of the making process of her books makes me want to add all her work to my want to read, including I think hard to find Lara, but excluding Soul Tourists that Evaristo describes in a very honest manner. The importance of resilience and carving out one's own space is very clear from her story. As a positivity propagandist, Bernardine believes in manifesting once thoughts, thinking of the best possible outcome, and she recalls that when using this method with her first fiction novel that she dreamt of winning the Booker Prize already. Winning it at 60, with a catalogue of works to discover for readers is a treat. Nowhere is this a gloom or preachy book, despite the struggle and heavy subjected interlaced with the career of Evaristo. Even a recent anecdote, of the writer being invited to an Ivy League college, including housing, leading to a cop standing at her door, since a published resident writer couldn’t be a black woman apparently, is brought with the characteristic Evaristo humor, while pointing out the absurdity of the situation. I highly enjoyed this book and found it an inspiring read from one of the most distinct recent Booker Prize winners.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    An absolute joy to read. Thank you, Ms. Evaristo: for both your candour and amazing and refreshing sense of humour. Oh, and also for the inspiration. Yes, you made it: you became a Great Writer. Consider me an all time fan anxiously waiting for your next book. PS. You brought tears to my eyes and that’s not an easy feat.

  3. 4 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | “I am first and foremost a writer, the written word is how I process everything—myself, life, society, history, politics. It’s not just a job or a passion, but it is at the very heart of how I exist in the world, and I am addicted to the adventure of storytelling as my most powerful means of communication.” In Manifesto Bernardine Evaristo presents us with a retrospective of her life: from her childhood and family dynamics to discussing her love life and career. He | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | “I am first and foremost a writer, the written word is how I process everything—myself, life, society, history, politics. It’s not just a job or a passion, but it is at the very heart of how I exist in the world, and I am addicted to the adventure of storytelling as my most powerful means of communication.” In Manifesto Bernardine Evaristo presents us with a retrospective of her life: from her childhood and family dynamics to discussing her love life and career. Her candid, often humorous, voice grabbed me from the get-go and I found myself speeding through Manifesto. Not only does Evaristo have a knack for bringing various episodes and periods from her past to life but she always pairs these with a piercing and thought-provoking social commentary. “You feel hated, even though you have done nothing to deserve it, and so you think there is something wrong with you, rather than something wrong with them.” Manifesto is divided into several sections, each one exploring a different aspect of Evaristo’s life. In the first one, ‘heritage, childhood, family, origins’, Evaristo recounts her experiences of growing up in England in the 60s with a white mother and a Nigerian father. She describes her early encounters with racism, from witnessing the discrimination aimed at her father to the racism she herself experienced at school and in her neighbourhood. Her mother’s side of the family was openly against Evaristo’s parents' union, some of them refusing to speak to any of them or treating them with open disdain. While Evaristo is critical of their behaviour she does take into account the social mores that people like her grandmother grew up with, and while she doesn’t condone or minimise their behaviour and actions she does acknowledge how hard it is to free oneself of such a deeply ingrained mindset. “It was an early lesson for me as a child, witnessing how people who are victims of oppression can turn into oppressors themselves.” In addition to discussing race and racism Evaristo looks at her relationship with her father, and once again demonstrates admirable self-awareness as she considers how when growing up she saw her father as a strict tyrant, whereas now she recognises that his parenting was simply reflective of a different culture. Additionally, she realises how alienating his life in England was (being more or less out-of-touch with his family, to being deemed a second-class citizen, an ‘undesirable’). Evaristo’s account of her father’s experiences in England highlights the racism and discrimination endured by the Windrush generation. I found her exploration of her relationship with her father to be deeply moving and this section, despite its subject matter, was easily my favourite in Manifesto. In the following section, ‘houses, flats, rooms, homes’, Evaristo looks back to the various spaces she’s lived in since leaving her home. Many of the episodes she recounts are rather humorous, as they feature eccentric housemates & landlords as well as some bizarre living arrangements. This section reminded me of the tales my mother (who is a few years younger than evaristo) used to tell me about her odd living situations in London and Berlin when she was in her 20s. In describing the various rooms she’s lived in Evaristo considers the meaning of ‘home’. “Writing became a room of my own; writing became my permanent home.” In ‘the women and men who came and went’ Evaristo gives us a glimpse into her romantic and sexual exploits. In detailing her various partners she speaks about her own sexuality and power dynamics within a relationship. Once again Evaristo demonstrates a great understanding of human behaviour and is unafraid of challenging her old views/ideas. While I loved how open Evaristo is in examining her sexuality and her past and present relationship, I was frustrated by her binary view of sexuality. On the one hand, she says that sexuality is a spectrum and yet she also compares her sexuality to a sandwich (my lesbian identity was the stuffing in a heterosexual sandwich) and speaks of having had a ‘lesbian period’. The thing is, saying that one had a ‘lesbian era’ carries certain implications ( that this period is over, that it was a phase). After a particularly toxic relationship with an older woman Evaristo only actively seeks relationships with men, ‘rediscovering’ them, so to speak. Which, fair enough...but that does negate her previous interest in women? Why only use labels such as straight and lesbian rather than queer, pan, bi (etc etc)? That Evaristo couples her lesbian era with her discovery of feminism and politics is even more...sus (as if it was simply an accessory in her counterculture outfit). FYI, I’m a lesbian and I’m not a fan of people saying that they have had lesbian periods or phases (or people assuming that my own sexuality is a phase and that i will inevitably 'revert' to heterosexuality). And given that Evaristo did initially speak of sexuality as a spectrum, well, it makes it even all the more disappointing that she would go on at length to talk about her queerness as an ‘era’. Still, even when discussing her sexuality Evaristo incorporates other issues & factors into the conversation (class, gender, race, politics, age) so that even this section (in spite of its somewhat dated view of sexuality) has an element of intersectionality. In ‘drama, community, performance, politics’ writes about theatre. While her love for theatre is apparent she’s once again able to be critical, in this case, she highlights how racist and sexist this particular sphere of the art was and still is (from the roles made available to poc to the few opportunities that woc have in comparison to their white, and often male, peers). Evaristo goes on to discuss performativity and rejection. In the fifth chapter, ‘poetry, fiction, verse fiction, fusion fiction’, Evaristo continues to consider her ever-evolving relationship with her creativity, this time focusing on her writing. She gives us a glimpse into the early stages of her writing and provides us with some insight into her creative process. The way Evaristo talks about her work made me want to read it, a great sign I believe. While she now and again expresses some criticism towards her earlier ideas and stories, you can tell how proud she is of what these have achieved. While her experimental style is not something I usually would go for, the way she discusses her ‘fusion’ style is certainly inspiring and interesting. In ‘influences, sources, language, education’ Evaristo talks about the books and authors that influenced her as a writer. She speaks about the importance of representation, of finding one’s voice, and of resilience (in face of rejection etc.). In the final chapter, ‘the self, ambition, transformation, activism’ Evaristo discusses politics, the publishing industry and the academic world (both of which still are very white) and the various prizes and schemes she created or had a hand in creating that seek to elevate Black and Asian writers. There was one paragraph here that was a bit jarring as it starts with “The impact of Geroge Floyd’s murder in May 2020” and ends with “Many plans are afoot to open up. These are exciting times”. We then have a concussion in which Evaristo gives us a quick recap of what we’ve so far read and briefly writes of the impact of having won the Booker Prize. All in all, this was a solid piece of nonfiction. My favourite sections were the first one, which focuses on her childhood and family, and the second one. While I did appreciate the other chapters they at times had a textbook-like quality. I also got tired of frequent ‘back in those days’ refrain (we get it, “there was no internet” back then) and at times she explained things that didn’t really necessitate an explanation (again, just because some of your readers are younger than you does not mean that they are ignorant of what came before them). But apart from her occasionally patronising asides, I did find her voice equal parts compelling and incisive. Her wry wit added a layer of enjoyment to my reading experience. This is a work I would certainly recommend to my fellow book lovers, especially those who loved Evaristo’s fiction. I liked Manifesto so much that I have decided to give her Girl, Woman, Other another go (fingers crossed). ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    leah

    an incredible memoir detailing evaristo’s childhood (specifically growing up in a mixed race family in london during the 60s/70s), love life, years as a theatre student and her life-long journey as a writer, all the way up to her winning the 2019 Booker Prize for the equally incredible book Girl, Woman, Other, making her the first black British person and first black woman to do so. as evaristo recounts her life, her grit and determination as a writer really shines through, and that combined wi an incredible memoir detailing evaristo’s childhood (specifically growing up in a mixed race family in london during the 60s/70s), love life, years as a theatre student and her life-long journey as a writer, all the way up to her winning the 2019 Booker Prize for the equally incredible book Girl, Woman, Other, making her the first black British person and first black woman to do so. as evaristo recounts her life, her grit and determination as a writer really shines through, and that combined with her work ethic and her activism is definitely something to be admired. i thought this memoir was incredibly inspiring, moving, witty, and i simply just really enjoyed my time reading it and getting a deeper look into how evaristo produces her art. i definitely recommend this, and i’m looking forward to reading more of evaristo’s fiction soon. thank you penguin uk for the #gifted copy!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    It was such a thrill to be at the award ceremony on the historic night of Bernardine Evaristo's Booker Prize win for her novel “Girl, Woman, Other”. At the time I was a great admirer of the book and was aware of her reputation, but I had no idea how many years of hard graft and dedication the author had devoted to reaching this point. Now, reading her memoir “Manifesto”, I also have such an admiration for this creative individual who has fused her experience and imagination to produce a body of It was such a thrill to be at the award ceremony on the historic night of Bernardine Evaristo's Booker Prize win for her novel “Girl, Woman, Other”. At the time I was a great admirer of the book and was aware of her reputation, but I had no idea how many years of hard graft and dedication the author had devoted to reaching this point. Now, reading her memoir “Manifesto”, I also have such an admiration for this creative individual who has fused her experience and imagination to produce a body of literary works which artistically reflect the breadth of our culture and celebrate individuality in all its wondrous forms. In concise sections Evaristo lays out how she got to this point by describing her diverse family background, the places she's lived, the relationships she's had, the community and politics she's engaged in, the development of her distinct form of fiction, the writers and figures who've inspired her and the ambition to persist as a creative person. She describes her experience with such charm, wit and wisdom it's extremely enjoyable to read. Evaristo wholly embraced the platform which winning the Booker Prize gave her and I've been in awe seeing how busy she has been chairing this year's Women's Prize, speaking on panels, providing endorsements for books and curating the 'Black Britain, Writing Back' series which included the excellent novel “Bernard and the Cloth Monkey” which I read earlier this year. This memoir is subtitled 'On Never Giving Up' and the book is really a wonderful testament to how the creative individual must persist and express themselves no matter what hardships are encountered. Read my full review of Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo on LonesomeReader

  6. 5 out of 5

    All My Friends Are Fictional

    I think I was surprised by how conventional of an autobiography this has felt. Having read almost all of Evaristo´s work, I was expecting more of a punch, I guess. Manifesto often ventures into being matronly/patronizing but still offers many great pieces of advice for people who want to follow a creative path. I´ve simultaneously read the printed version and listened to the audiobook, narrated by Evaristo herself, which enhanced my reading experience - otherwise my rating would have been rather I think I was surprised by how conventional of an autobiography this has felt. Having read almost all of Evaristo´s work, I was expecting more of a punch, I guess. Manifesto often ventures into being matronly/patronizing but still offers many great pieces of advice for people who want to follow a creative path. I´ve simultaneously read the printed version and listened to the audiobook, narrated by Evaristo herself, which enhanced my reading experience - otherwise my rating would have been rather lower. P. S. It's not a manifesto, if it takes up only last two pages of a book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emer

    if i could give this more than 5 stars i would! her life is incredibly interesting and just outright cool tbh and she writes with such energy and humour - what an inspiration!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Hobson

    I like the way that this book works on a couple of levels. First as a biography of the writer Bernardine Evaristo, and then as an encouragement to other writers, urging them in the words of the subtitle 'On Never Giving Up’. In 2019 Evaristo jointly won the Booker Prize and it was an event that changed her life. Before that, she had written numerous books and stage plays but they had not received the attention they deserved. Now people are reading her earlier works with new eyes, opened for them I like the way that this book works on a couple of levels. First as a biography of the writer Bernardine Evaristo, and then as an encouragement to other writers, urging them in the words of the subtitle 'On Never Giving Up’. In 2019 Evaristo jointly won the Booker Prize and it was an event that changed her life. Before that, she had written numerous books and stage plays but they had not received the attention they deserved. Now people are reading her earlier works with new eyes, opened for them by the Booker. Late in this book she describes a moment from that evening: The prize judges chose two winners for the 2019’s award: Margaret Atwood for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, and myself. I’ll never forget how elated I felt when my name was called out by the Chair of the jury. Margaret and I met on the steps of the stage and hugged – two women, two races, two nations, two generations – two members of the human race – and then we ascended the stage hand-in-hand to rapturous applause. It was a landmark historical moment for literature and for the sisterhood. What really struck me about the book was the struggle Evaristo has encountered throughout her life; the racism and prejudice. But also that it was not just her family, with a black Nigerian father married to a white English mother, but that it could be found in earlier generations. A few steps back on the family tree, one relative had married a German who arrived in Britain in the 1860s and prospered enough to own two bakeries. His windows were smashed during World War I in the same way Evaristo’s were for being a black family in a white neighbourhood. In another part of the family in the late 1800s someone married an Irishman, another group that were lampooned and discriminated against. Interesting to see on how many levels bigotry can operate on. There is a touching recognition of her heritage at the start of each section of the book where she gives the chapter number in old English, Yoruba (a Nigerian language), Irish, German and Portuguese. All ancestors covered. Evaristo recognises that she has her own inner toughness, essential to her creative survival. She observes: This hardiness was probably first developed in my very early years. I’ve never been in therapy as I like to live with my demons. By this I don’t mean that I’m living with unresolved trauma, but that I’ve become adept at self-interrogation and have never felt driven to seek help. I like to work things out for myself, and I guess this book is a massive act of self-interrogation. There are several examples of symmetry throughout the book. A strong grandmother made curtains for the local convent grammar school to help secure Evaristo’s mother a place there. The mother, who became a teacher, used her own connections to secure a place at a grammar school for her daughter. It wasn’t their first choice, but the racism of the time prevented her gaining entry to the first even though she had the qualifications. She would have been the only black girl in the school, just like she was in the school she did attend. Once she left school, next came boyfriend, job and rented home. At 18 she spent her first night in a bedroom that wasn’t shared. It is hard to imagine the life that was lived with eight children in the house. While undertaking a writers residency at the Museum of London, Evaristo wrote a story called Emperor’s Babe which featured a black character. The Museum disagreed, saying there was no evidence for such a person, but years later, archaeology proved that there had been an African presence in Roman London. You can feel the author’s satisfaction at this discovery. More generally about writing, Evaristo makes the following observations: How we manage ourselves once our books are out in the public domain can make the difference between a lifelong career or an ephemeral one. And no matter how well our books are doing, there will always be dissenters who don’t like them, who think they’re overrated. It sobering, grounding. My goal, as always, is to continue to write stories and to develop my skills. There is no point of arrival whereby one stops growing as a creative person; to think otherwise will lead to creative repetition and stagnation. She also makes the following observation about some of the comments that have been made about her own writing: I have also been told that, whatever I write, I’m writing about myself. I know, crazy. As if I’m somehow an Afro-Roman girl from eighteen hundred years ago, a septuagenarian gay Caribbean man, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy living on an estate, or a white slave woman living in a parallel universe! One radio interviewer asked me if all twelve characters in Girl, Woman, Other were versions of myself. Really? A Nigerian immigrant who works as a cleaner and a ninety-three-year-old northern farmer? My books are only about myself in the sense that any work of fiction can be said to be a manifestation of a writer’s preconceptions. The only character who is a fully fictionalised version of myself is the eponymous Lara, and even then, I make things up. It’s what we novelists do. Creative writers are proud of our own imaginations: we cherish our ability to conceive of ideas and to find interesting ways to express them. I give myself complete artistic licence to write from multiple perspectives and to inhabit different cultures across the perceived barriers of race, culture, gender, age and sexuality. I am the most rebellious of writers; a freedom lover and disobeyer of rules, which is why I’m curious as to the concept of cultural ownership, which rears its head in discussions about artistic freedom. How can culture be owned by anyone when it is in a perpetual state of movement and metamorphosis, of permeability and responsiveness to global influences. The book ends with two superb short sections – a conclusion and a Manifesto. Evaristo notes that many of the roles she has assumed in her professional life were unthinkable at the time of her birth – board memberships, editor and professorships. But now with maturity she does not throw stones at the fortress but sits inside ‘having polite, persuasive and persistent conversations about how to transform outmoded infrastructures…’. Within the Manifesto there are many wise words. These in particular resonated for me: Storytellers must overcome all internal & external obstacles by prioritizing our commitment to ambition, hard work, craft, originality & unstoppability. Creativity circulates freely in our imaginations, waiting for us to tap into it. It must not be bound by rules or censorship, yet we should not ignore its socio-political contexts. Be wild, disobedient & daring with your creativity, take risks instead of following predictable routes; those who play it safe do not advance our culture or civilization. There is more great wisdom, but you need to read it for yourself and reflect on the wisdom of the messages it contains. This is a great read, inspiring and fascinating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was an excellent memoir, it was split into seven parts and all of them were fascinating. I didn't know what to expect and thought it would mainly focus on her writing life, but I loved how it explored her heritage, childhood, family and origins (in part one) and covered the racism her family faced in the UK while she was growing up. I loved reading part five (poetry, fiction, verse fiction, fusion fiction), it was great gaining an insight into her writing process and how long it takes for her This was an excellent memoir, it was split into seven parts and all of them were fascinating. I didn't know what to expect and thought it would mainly focus on her writing life, but I loved how it explored her heritage, childhood, family and origins (in part one) and covered the racism her family faced in the UK while she was growing up. I loved reading part five (poetry, fiction, verse fiction, fusion fiction), it was great gaining an insight into her writing process and how long it takes for her to complete each of her novels. She has had an interesting life and career and now I want to read more from Evaristo. I admired her persistence not just in her career but in being true to herself. If like me, you've read and loved some of her novels then I'm sure you would love this too. I highly recommend it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Dunn

    I was lucky enough to see Bernardine Evaristo speak at a publicity event for this release in Edinburgh. The ticket included a copy of Manifesto which I started soon after leaving. It was very interesting and I liked the, unusual for a memoir, form which split the memoir into thematic portions as opposed to periods of Evaristo's life. This allowed her to return to the most crucial events in her life and meditate upon them with different perspectives as she aged. I liked that the memoir included m I was lucky enough to see Bernardine Evaristo speak at a publicity event for this release in Edinburgh. The ticket included a copy of Manifesto which I started soon after leaving. It was very interesting and I liked the, unusual for a memoir, form which split the memoir into thematic portions as opposed to periods of Evaristo's life. This allowed her to return to the most crucial events in her life and meditate upon them with different perspectives as she aged. I liked that the memoir included mighty sections on ideology but also a more intimate look into her writing process and relationships. The thread of creativity gives the memoir purpose and successfully brings the fragments together for an enjoyable read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jen Burrows

    Manifesto is much more of an autobiography than the 'collection of essays' promised by the blurb, but it is nonetheless an engaging read, a life story told in the author's own voice. It's fascinating to see how one writer has helped to shape - and been shaped by - British literary culture, not just as a writer but as an activist, theatre-maker and arts organiser. Evaristo believes in the power of positivity, and although no one can manifest themselves to success without the hard work and talent t Manifesto is much more of an autobiography than the 'collection of essays' promised by the blurb, but it is nonetheless an engaging read, a life story told in the author's own voice. It's fascinating to see how one writer has helped to shape - and been shaped by - British literary culture, not just as a writer but as an activist, theatre-maker and arts organiser. Evaristo believes in the power of positivity, and although no one can manifest themselves to success without the hard work and talent to back it up, it's inspiring to hear from a writer who has never given up. *Thank you to Netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review*

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Newcomb

    Having watched the TV programmes and read Lara, there wasn't a great deal new here but its nice to have her life story, her views and ideology all in one place. And as always, with whatever she writes, it is very readable and difficult to put down. Having watched the TV programmes and read Lara, there wasn't a great deal new here but its nice to have her life story, her views and ideology all in one place. And as always, with whatever she writes, it is very readable and difficult to put down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Henderson

    I thought this book would be more about themes and ideas than Evaristo's own personal life. This book reads more like a memoir than a 'series of essays' that is promised in the blurb. This isn't a problem, and I still enjoyed reading, but just surprising as I wasn't expecting it to be like that. I didn't know Bernardine Evasristo had a background in theatre before reading, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters where she tells us of her experiences in the theatre world. I wish the book had been mo I thought this book would be more about themes and ideas than Evaristo's own personal life. This book reads more like a memoir than a 'series of essays' that is promised in the blurb. This isn't a problem, and I still enjoyed reading, but just surprising as I wasn't expecting it to be like that. I didn't know Bernardine Evasristo had a background in theatre before reading, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters where she tells us of her experiences in the theatre world. I wish the book had been more political or more radical in some of its themes. I feel like Evaristo hints at things, and changes she would like society to make in terms of racism and gender stereotyping, LGBTQ rights etc but she doesn't take this any further. I think hearing the title of 'manifesto' i expected to be more political. Overall I did enjoy reading, and I definitely learnt a lot more about Evaristo's own life by reading - but it wasn't the radical book I was expecting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma Thompson

    I'm not normally a non-fiction reader but this had me completely hooked. An absolutely fascinating insight into an unstoppable life. I have finished feeling ready to start writing again and will be keeping my signed copy of this by my writing desk as a force of inspiration. Also, it's absolutely mad how different the world Evaristo grew up in seems to now even though it was only a few decades ago. I'm not normally a non-fiction reader but this had me completely hooked. An absolutely fascinating insight into an unstoppable life. I have finished feeling ready to start writing again and will be keeping my signed copy of this by my writing desk as a force of inspiration. Also, it's absolutely mad how different the world Evaristo grew up in seems to now even though it was only a few decades ago.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    This memoir is actually my introduction to Evaristo and her writing, as I haven't read 'Girl, Woman, Other' yet. I liked the idea of getting to know her before picking her fictional work. After reading this, I'd say you don't need to be a fan to pick it up. It was funny, incredibly honest and inspiring. Evaristo shares episodes of her life, interlaced with social commentaries on various matters such as race, gender discrimination, politics and so on. It is divided in different thematic chapters, This memoir is actually my introduction to Evaristo and her writing, as I haven't read 'Girl, Woman, Other' yet. I liked the idea of getting to know her before picking her fictional work. After reading this, I'd say you don't need to be a fan to pick it up. It was funny, incredibly honest and inspiring. Evaristo shares episodes of her life, interlaced with social commentaries on various matters such as race, gender discrimination, politics and so on. It is divided in different thematic chapters, rather than following a timeline, which I thought was interesting. By juxtaposing all these experiences with similar themes (childhood/family, relationships, work...), it allows us to see how her approach to these different aspects of her life has evolved with age. She's always honest about her past and her views, and doesn't shy away from talking about past mistakes, even when it might potentially make her look bad, which is something I found commendable and refreshing. She writes her thoughts as if she's having a conversation with us, using informal tone and slang, which gave me down to earth/relatable vibes. I loved reading about her childhood, the insight about growing up in a mixed race family in 60/70s Britain, how she navigated adult life and the creative world as a black woman, unapologetically trying to find herself and never compromising on her ideals and dreams. We see how her life feeds into her creative process, and we are reminded that her success, just like any success, didn't come out of nowhere but was the result of a long journey. Manifesto is a testimony of determination and perseverance and a reminder to never give up indeed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annette Jordan

    Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo is a compelling account of the people, places and other forces that have shaped her both as a woman and as a writer. Written as a series of vignettes rather than a linear memoir, it draws the reader in with an almost conversational tone. No topic is off limits, and Evaristo is not afraid to admit to her flaws or failings, instead showing how they contributed to the growth of her skill. At the heart of this book, as is the case with her fiction, is her experiences Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo is a compelling account of the people, places and other forces that have shaped her both as a woman and as a writer. Written as a series of vignettes rather than a linear memoir, it draws the reader in with an almost conversational tone. No topic is off limits, and Evaristo is not afraid to admit to her flaws or failings, instead showing how they contributed to the growth of her skill. At the heart of this book, as is the case with her fiction, is her experiences as a Black woman in Britain, and how that has changed in the years since her childhood. The subtitle of the book is " on never giving up" and that is a message that Evaristo emphasises over and over again in this slim volume. Readers of her previous works will enjoy the insights she gives into where the ideas came from and how they developed over time, sometimes morphing into something completely different than she first imagined , and I was fascinated by her account of her childhood and early teenage years. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this review copy, and it left me feeling like I needed to seek out more of her back catalogue. I read a review copy courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucky

    Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for the review copy of this book. Having loved “Girl, Woman, Other”, I really looked forward to reading this and learning more about the author behind such a brilliant book. The book details her background from childhood to present day; beginning with Bernardine‘s upbringing in South London, where she was raised in a busy dual heritage household, and goes in to other areas of her life - including her career, living in London, relationships and more. It’s an interes Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for the review copy of this book. Having loved “Girl, Woman, Other”, I really looked forward to reading this and learning more about the author behind such a brilliant book. The book details her background from childhood to present day; beginning with Bernardine‘s upbringing in South London, where she was raised in a busy dual heritage household, and goes in to other areas of her life - including her career, living in London, relationships and more. It’s an interesting, inspiring insight into the life, influences and works of a brilliant author - fascinating, at times wryly funny.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    What an inspiration, as an author, academic and formidable woman! This book is part-memoir part-how-to-guide on being tenacious, authentic, patient with your own creativity and success... she interweaves all this with details of her childhood and the histories of her parents and their parents before them, an accumulated lineage of diverse cultures that exemplify and trace the changing nature of global and British society. I love that she won the Booker prize at the age of 60 and just continues t What an inspiration, as an author, academic and formidable woman! This book is part-memoir part-how-to-guide on being tenacious, authentic, patient with your own creativity and success... she interweaves all this with details of her childhood and the histories of her parents and their parents before them, an accumulated lineage of diverse cultures that exemplify and trace the changing nature of global and British society. I love that she won the Booker prize at the age of 60 and just continues to build on that success. I can't wait to read whatever she writes next!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matt Harrison

    Currently tied for the best book I have read this year. Utterly profound and beautiful in the most amazing way. Evaristo's candour with which she looks at her own inconsistencies and desire for self improvement are deeply inspiring, as is the way she turns her critical insights to blackness, whiteness, and the creative arts. Superb. Two days to read... A lifetime to cherish. Currently tied for the best book I have read this year. Utterly profound and beautiful in the most amazing way. Evaristo's candour with which she looks at her own inconsistencies and desire for self improvement are deeply inspiring, as is the way she turns her critical insights to blackness, whiteness, and the creative arts. Superb. Two days to read... A lifetime to cherish.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katdakoo

    Energizing, ambitious, angstless. What a read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chantal Lyons

    This compact memoir by Evaristo will probably not be of interest to readers who have not read any of her earlier books. Those who have will probably find the memoir rewarding and insightful. The prose somewhat lacks the vitality of 'Girl, Woman, Other' (which has become one of my favourite books) but Evaristo's writing style remains engaging. There are witty one-liners that had me chortling on my long train journey, and plenty of memories that clearly helped to inform Evaristo's Booker-winning m This compact memoir by Evaristo will probably not be of interest to readers who have not read any of her earlier books. Those who have will probably find the memoir rewarding and insightful. The prose somewhat lacks the vitality of 'Girl, Woman, Other' (which has become one of my favourite books) but Evaristo's writing style remains engaging. There are witty one-liners that had me chortling on my long train journey, and plenty of memories that clearly helped to inform Evaristo's Booker-winning masterpiece. As a writer, I found Evaristo's musings on her writing process very reassuring - she freely admits to having to go through heaps of re-writes before she's satisfied with her work, and she emphasises the importance of respecting and listening to editorial advice. I was also fascinated to learn about her 'affirmation' habit - as a pretty pessimistic person, this is something I might just give a try. So - if you have read any of Evaristo's books, read this one next! (With thanks to Penguin and NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review)

  22. 5 out of 5

    D

    A really generous and wise memoir that relates the arc of the author’s creativity through the prism of her life. An inspiring and honest account.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Manifesto is as you would expect from Evaristo incredibly well written. It is part memoir part essay on a range of subjects such as life, love, society and publishing. She talks about her childhood, the racism she experienced even from her own family and how it shaped and influenced her. I particularly enjoyed the way she decribes how and when she wrote her poetry and novels. Her determination and belief in herself throughout her life is inspiring, she kept going changing the route but always ke Manifesto is as you would expect from Evaristo incredibly well written. It is part memoir part essay on a range of subjects such as life, love, society and publishing. She talks about her childhood, the racism she experienced even from her own family and how it shaped and influenced her. I particularly enjoyed the way she decribes how and when she wrote her poetry and novels. Her determination and belief in herself throughout her life is inspiring, she kept going changing the route but always keeping her ultimate goal in sight. The hard work involved in being a writer is vividly illustrated and her work ethic is to be admired and emulated. Throughout her career she was worked hard to shine a light and champion others. Evaristo is charming and vey funny and unflinching in her honesty. I really enjoyed reading this uplifting account.

  24. 4 out of 5

    JoJo

    Sadly I found this a remarkably dull and unlyrical telling of what sounds like an interesting life, maybe writing about herself rather than fictional creations removed the creative spark that won the prize for the author.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    I enjoyed this and read it quickly. I like memoirs. I love discovering the origins of interesting people and how their skills have developed. But I winced at the clichéd phrases and trite motivational advice. Nice, easy reading but slightly disappointing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Evie

    As stated in the blurb, Manifesto tells the story of Bernardine Evaristo from her early childhood plagued with racism, to her discovery of herself through theatre, her exploration of both her culture and sexuality and how all of this fed into her writing. It tells the story of each of her books coming to life and the relentless writing journey and determination involved in each one. It is filled with positivity, warmth and shines a light on all kinds of social issues seen in the world today: rac As stated in the blurb, Manifesto tells the story of Bernardine Evaristo from her early childhood plagued with racism, to her discovery of herself through theatre, her exploration of both her culture and sexuality and how all of this fed into her writing. It tells the story of each of her books coming to life and the relentless writing journey and determination involved in each one. It is filled with positivity, warmth and shines a light on all kinds of social issues seen in the world today: race, class, sexuality, ageing- and how Bernardine overcame her own challenges with these things to become the successful, powerful writer and person that she is today. What did I love? I really enjoyed the writing style of this book but then I didn’t expect anything less from Bernardine Evaristo, this book was so different from anything else that I have read by her and didn’t have the unique ‘prose’ of her other books but instead took on more of a traditional fiction style and I loved it. It flowed perfectly. I loved the insight into Bernardine Evaristo’s life, in reading about her experiences I found the character’s from her other books and felt as though I had a look into her own inspiration. I loved the honestly of this book- especially in the second half that focussed more on her experience whilst writing and her experience of the process and the way that she demonstrated that the writing process is not always something that is linear and even somebody who is as successful as she is experiences rejection and difficulty. I thought this book sat perfectly in the middle ground between being a memoir but almost a diary. This made the writing feel more raw, as though you were a bystander in Evaristo’s mind as she reflected on her own life and experiences. I loved Evaristo’s exportation of culture and the journey she went on in order to explore this in different ways for different parts of her life. What didn’t I love? Some of the book was a little slow paced although this may have been partly down to my interests. In the middle of the book the story is largely focussed on Evaristo’s experience in theatre and although I found it interesting to read of her determination and how this fed into the confidence she had in the rest of her life I didn’t love the theatre specific parts. I would have loved a little more about her childhood and her family life. I found this part of the book the most captivating and would have happily read more about this and how the issues that she experienced whilst growing up also impacted the wider family. Although I really loved the infectious positivity laced through the book and importance of this positivity in Evaristo’s success I would have liked to understand the other side a little bit better. At times it felt a little bit preachy as it didn’t explore the negative emotions or hardships as much as it could before explaining the benefits of her positive mindset. I feel that some of the topics in the book that were maybe darker or political in nature could have been explored more. I find Evaristo incredibly insightful and would have loved to have learnt her perspective more intricately on some of the heavier topics covered. Summary Overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved the insight it gave into what had been the inspiration behind so many character’s that I have adored through Evaristo’s writing- I felt like I could find parts of her in the character’s that I have read and it only made me love them even more. Although at times the book felt a little bit slow (largely due to my own interests) my own interest in the author kept me engaged in the story. The writing style as always was beautiful and again helped with the flow of the story. The way in which the chapters were marked with numbers of the different languages matching Evaristo’s culture was a really nice quirk. The book was thought provoking and inspiring. I felt saddened by some of the experiences of Evaristo at the hands of racism, sexism and the other topics explored but in the next breathe awe inspired by her resilience and determination in overcoming this treatment. I would really recommend picking up this book particularly if you are familiar with any of Bernardine Evaristo’s work as it truly is a beautiful insight into her mind and her art.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suze

    “Bernardine Evaristo’s life story is a manifesto for courage, integrity, optimism, resourcefulness and tenacity. It’s a manifesto for anyone who has ever stood on the margins, and anyone who wants to make their mark on history. It’s a manifesto for being unstoppable.” (link) One of the things I love about Evaristo’s writing is her wit. She’s dry, and funny, teasing out witty observations of the humans in and around her stories.The opening paragraph in Manifesto talks about her winning the joint B “Bernardine Evaristo’s life story is a manifesto for courage, integrity, optimism, resourcefulness and tenacity. It’s a manifesto for anyone who has ever stood on the margins, and anyone who wants to make their mark on history. It’s a manifesto for being unstoppable.” (link) One of the things I love about Evaristo’s writing is her wit. She’s dry, and funny, teasing out witty observations of the humans in and around her stories.The opening paragraph in Manifesto talks about her winning the joint Booker prize in 2019, describing it as overnight success which was 40 years in the making. Arch, but warm, she manages to include all while pointing out with laser like precision, the exclusions that she and others have and do experience. From growing up in a chaotic but loving, slightly ramshackle family home and describing the other places she’s lived, a riveting tale is told of her life and how she got to where she is now. Her family tales are funny, and touching, and reminded me of Georgia Pritchett, perhaps because they’re from just about the same location and era of the UK. Layering back and over and through, she talks about the difficult relationship she had with her unforgiving and stern father and more creative mother, and how that relationship changed with time and age, and ultimately how she misses them. Something I think a lot of people will be able to connect with. The main theme for me from this is that this overnight success was hard work. The Manifesto is to keep going, to believe in yourself and, if I can continue to paraphrase, accept that you may make mistakes, but they will lead you to the right path. Elizabeth Day’s podcast, “How to Fail”, is a great study in how our mistakes can teach us how to succeed, or even show us the way we should be going – even if we don’t know it for a while! She somehow manages to describe what it was like to grow up as the only Black family in the area, where neighbours whispered as you walked past, smashed your windows or even confided in you that they hoped you didn’t live near ‘that’ family, not realising that you were one of them, with an open style which makes it easy to empathise. This is in spite of me not being Black, growing up in London at that time or possessing that drive, that talent, to do what she has achieved. I think that reading wider, about the world outside your own in terms of thought or experience or culture or anything else, can only ever be a good thing. Expanding your horizons from your own sofa – the quickest form of travel. Learning more about Evaristo’s professional life and career is fascinating. Realising early on that there wasn’t room for her at the traditional paths, she forged her own, building a community of like minded people along the way. A few of the anecdotes I recognised from facets of her characters in “Girl, Woman, Other” , such as the abusive, coercive relationship with the older woman – not lifted wholesale, of course, but deepening my appreciation of the book as a whole. I recommend this to anyone who likes memoir, who wants to be inspired and to read a bit more about this amazing woman. Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for the DRC – this is now out to buy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    LKS

    (2.5 stars) It's a fast read about an inspiring life - but sadly I didn't find most of the writing inspiring. I'm not sure if the topic-led approach works for me and would've probably preferred a more chronological order. Also, there are many gaps that feel like they could've been explored and added to the understanding of her "evolution" (e.g. how she ended up being a professor). Most importantly, I felt like there is almost a lack of an emotional connection between the author and her past self (2.5 stars) It's a fast read about an inspiring life - but sadly I didn't find most of the writing inspiring. I'm not sure if the topic-led approach works for me and would've probably preferred a more chronological order. Also, there are many gaps that feel like they could've been explored and added to the understanding of her "evolution" (e.g. how she ended up being a professor). Most importantly, I felt like there is almost a lack of an emotional connection between the author and her past self. The book felt rather dry/analytical, maybe in an attempt to be super objective - or maybe because the author wasn't ready to let the readers into her actual private, emotional inner life... which is understandable, but let's the book fall short, and left me with a lack of empathy for the narrator. Whenever Bernardine is writing about other people in her life or her fictional characters, though, the story comes to life. So after having only read GWO previously, I'm looking forward to digging into her fiction backlist, which is probably what she does best.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tony S

    An interesting read that is more of a life story of how the author got to where she is today. Growing up in the same kind of era it is interesting to see how times have changed and how the old prejudices are now challenged. It certainly opened my eyes to many of the challenges that were and still are faced in society today. In some ways I wish we had explored more about the obstacles that were put in the way and how these were overcome and the resilience that was needed through out to do this bu An interesting read that is more of a life story of how the author got to where she is today. Growing up in the same kind of era it is interesting to see how times have changed and how the old prejudices are now challenged. It certainly opened my eyes to many of the challenges that were and still are faced in society today. In some ways I wish we had explored more about the obstacles that were put in the way and how these were overcome and the resilience that was needed through out to do this but over all a thoroughly thought provoking book and some idea of how far we have come but how far we still to go.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bookwormbadger

    I absolutely adored Girl, Woman, Other and so was delighted to be able to read Manifesto. This is a beautifully written, heartfelt, searingly honest book that is simultaneously a memoir of Evaristo's early life and background, as well as a very inspiring "manifesto" of how we should all be aiming to live, embracing our individuality, creativity and respect for all beings regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age and class. I found it moving, thought provoking and ultimately uplifting. She is a b I absolutely adored Girl, Woman, Other and so was delighted to be able to read Manifesto. This is a beautifully written, heartfelt, searingly honest book that is simultaneously a memoir of Evaristo's early life and background, as well as a very inspiring "manifesto" of how we should all be aiming to live, embracing our individuality, creativity and respect for all beings regardless of race, gender, sexuality, age and class. I found it moving, thought provoking and ultimately uplifting. She is a brilliant writer and should be read by everyone. With thanks to NetGalley, Penguin General UK and Bernardine Evaristo for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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