When a friend told me that she was reading a book that didn’t use fullstops, quotation marks or capital letters at the beginning of sentences and it sounded like a poem, I knew I had to read it. Bernadine Evaristo’s book Girl, woman, other was published in 2019 and won the Booker Prize that year.
It’s about 12 girls/women/others centred around Britain, each with their own section so we are instantly taken into the minds, hearts and lives of all of them. The 12 characters have lives which intersect each other’s, sometimes in familial ways, sometimes through friendship or work relationships. The last chapter brings it all together.
I loved the sense of floating through the book, feeling as if I were on a meandering river which flowed its way through the different stories. The lack of ‘proper’ punctuation certainly added to that effect.
The stories, connecting past, present and future, connecting women of all different sexualities, class, education, financial means, are compelling. The characters are sad, humorous, tender, angry, passionate, invisible, loud, scared, defiant, shocking, desperate, creative – and so much more.
So now I am following my friend’s lead, and telling you, my friends, about this book that doesn’t use conventional punctuation and reads like a poem. I hope you feel like you need to read it, too!