Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
I liked the structure of fairly short but in-depth sections that follow a host of characters who are loosely connected more than I expected to. There’s no unifying plot, at least not in the traditional sense, and no one character who could fairly be called central, but the content of the various stories is all connected–they all address the struggles of being, at least in some way, a woman, and of color (specifically black), and they largely focus not just on race and gender but on sexuality and relationships. The thematic linkage, combined with the continual reappearing of characters as peripheral figures in one another’s stories, keeps it feeling cohesive, and in in the realm of the novel. Some of the dives are deeper than others, but all are engaging.
What really struck me was the book’s illustration of the way everyone we encounter is fighting some battle we know nothing about-a critic who reviews the play written by another character, a teacher, a cleaner, a grocery store employee, a great-grandmother–across social strata, across generations. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to draw a chart, or a web.