She might have eight books published, seven of which are novels, but Bernardine Evaristo is not so much of a devotee to the short fiction form, with only around 12 published over her four-decade creative career. She had one in the March issue of British Vogue; titled “Star of the Season,” it is set in a world of high-concept couture and focuses on a cybernetic socialite who decides the future of fashion. Now she has another in New Statesman, a juicy satire titled “The White Man’s Liberation Front,” written, she says, in a few days. And she has yet another forthcoming.
“I love the form but only ever write them when commissioned,” she wrote on Facebook. “There’s nothing like completing a short fiction in a few days rather than a long one over many years. No paywall.”
“The White Man’s Liberation Front” follows a self-hating white British male academic who is dissatisfied with his job and marriage and, while writing “the first ever academic book investigating all the great men behind successful women,” anonymously finds a public voice as the founder of a racist, sexist blog that uses such hashtags as #whyismylecturernotastraightwhiteman, #defeminisingthecurriculum, and #academicpromotion4men.
Here’s the opening:
Brian, a historian of some note – although the world hasn’t woken up to that fact yet – has just read, on his laptop, the latest letter from his bosses passing him over for annual promotion due to his “insufficient research activity”. Pamela, on the other hand, a sociologist of much productivity but little originality (if truth be told, and certainly not to her face) was nonetheless prematurely promoted to the rank of professor years ago – by a committee of predominantly women, it goes without saying.
The problem with universities these days is that they place the renowned book on an equal footing with paltry essays when it comes to research, and therefore serious academics, such as himself, aren’t supposed to spend years (13.5 so far) on a magnum opus that will revolutionise his subject and go down in history. Oh no, the politburo at his university, primarily working-class women of colour and lesbians and the rest, are blocking his ascendancy to Senior Lecturer-ship just because he’s not an intellectual dilettante who churns out an essay-a-month from the conveyor belt of his mind. Furthermore, he’s had to be Admissions Tutor for the past seven years as penance for his lack of publications, which means turning up on campus on Saturdays, just when all his colleagues are happily enjoying boozy brunches away from the Gulag. He, on the other hand, has to try to persuade teenagers to come and study at his university, or rather to persuade the parents who accompany their fledgling human offspring because they’re the ones making the decision since tuition fees skyrocketed.
Read the story HERE.