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Bernardine Evaristo holds a copy of her Girl, Woman, Other at Southbank Centre, London. Photo credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images.

Right after Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood were announced joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, the UK’s The Guardian published a piece examining the judges’ decision to settle on two winners. The opinion, by the newspaper’s fiction editor Justine Jordan, was given a curious headline: “Booker judges split between huge event novel and obscure choice.” Atwood’s The Testament is, of course, the huge event novel and Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other would be the “obscure” one.

Except there is nothing obscure about a novel that centres the lives of Black British women like never before, in a polyphonic style the author calls “fusion fiction.” Except that this novel only minutes ago made its author the first Black woman and first Black British person to win this prize in a world filled with outstanding Black female writers. Except that Black people, and especially Black women, consistently see their achievements diminished by mainstream media.

There was no way the headline would have escaped Twitter. Kish Widyratna, an editor at the publishing house Picador, spotted it.

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Minutes later, The Guardian changed the headline:

Here’s to hoping that no one else, even unintentionally, takes away from Bernardine Evaristo’s long creative and curatorial brilliance.

Congratulations to Bernardine Evaristo.

 

Graph image by somethingbookish.com.ng.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. He is currently nominated for the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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