Bernardine Evaristo will be the next president of the Royal Society of Literature, becoming the first writer of color to hold the post.
Evaristo, whose novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize in 2019, will take over from Marina Warner at the end of this year. She will be the second woman president in the company’s 200-year history.
She said she was “deeply honored” to be chosen as the organization’s leading figure. The company “boldly embraced the 21st century as a great champion of the possibilities of a more egalitarian culture for literature,” she added.
“Storytelling is ingrained in our DNA as human beings – it is sewn into the story arc of our lives, it is in our relationships, our desires and our conflicts, and it is the prism through which we ourselves. let’s explore and understand ourselves and the world we live in. Literature is not a luxury, but essential to our civilization.
“So I am so proud to be the figurehead of such an august and strong literary organization that is so actively and urgently committed to including the widest range of outstanding writers from all demographics and geographies of Britain, and reaching the marginalized. communities through literary projects, including introducing young people in schools to some of Britain’s greatest writers who visit, teach and discuss their work with them, ”she said.
Evaristo was the first black writer to win the Booker Prize, and the prize propelled her into the limelight after six previous novels. Girl, Woman, Other has become a bestseller in many languages.
Daljit Nagra, president of RSL, said Evaristo was a founding writer and a pioneer. “As a writer she speaks with striking originality about underrepresented voices, as a lawyer she has championed neglected authors and as an activist she has expressed the value of literature. Across all media, his voice resonates in a passionate, recognizable, unique and essential open-mindedness.
RSL also announced the first 12 authors of its International Writers Program, which recognizes the contribution of writers from around the world to English literature. The authors are: Don Mee Choi, Annie Ernaux, David Grossman, Jamaica Kincaid, Yan Lianke, Amin Maalouf, Alain Mabanckou, Javier Marías, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Claudia Rankine, Olga Tokarczuk and Dubravka Ugrešić.
Evaristo grew up in South London with a Nigerian father and a white English mother, and seven siblings, at a time when it was “still legal to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin,” she writes. in his memoir, Manifesto, published last month.
She said her family “suffered abuse from children who reproduced their parents’ racism, as well as violent assaults on our family home by thugs who threw bricks at our windows so regularly as soon as they were gone. replaced, we knew they would be broken again… As a child, you are deeply affected by this level of hostility without being able to intellectualize or articulate it You feel hated, even though you haven’t done anything to deserve it.