‘This has never happened before!’ Bernardine Evaristo and Reni Eddo-Lodge on their history-making year

The novelist, playwright and poet talks to the writer about what their spectacular success has meant for them – and for the hopes of black female writers in future

This year, in twin firsts, black British women topped both the fiction and nonfiction charts. Both successes were a long time coming, but sparked a ray of hope that the Black Lives Matter movement may be creating space for new voices and stories. The novelist, playwright and poet Bernardine Evaristo, who made history with Girl, Woman, Other, and Reni Eddo-Lodge, the groundbreaking author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, talk about this unprecedented moment.

Bernardine Evaristo: This year, everything came to me. Absolutely everything. At times, it was quite overwhelming but I also welcomed it. Because I have been in this game for 40 years now. So to suddenly break through has been a great opportunity to use my platform in all the ways that one can. And then, of course, we had Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd. Attention had been on my book anyway, because it had been doing really well. But the Black Lives Matter movement encouraged people to start reading books by writers of colour. You had all these book lists circulating on social media. Black authors were topping the charts. That’s never happened before.

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