Interview with Bernardine Evaristo, the feminist author recommended by Barack Obama

Bernardin Evaristo is a British writer who breaks the moulds. She was the first black woman to win the Booker Priceone of the most important in Anglo-Saxon literature for his book ‘Girl, woman, others’ (AdN), which appeared in 2019 in the list of the 19 favorite books of barack obama. Among other things, she has undertaken several projects to fight against racism and promote the presence of black women in the field of culture. Feminist convinced, warns against the determination of some to restrict the rights of women with regard, for example, to the right to abortion. “You don’t have to stop fight for equality. We cannot lose”, she assures in an interview with El Pluriel as a prelude to the 8M, International Women’s Day.

In the interview, he also warns against the rise of populisms using what you define as “false sensationalism”. Define, for example, Boris Johnson like a completely toxic character who will be remembered as someone who sowed desolation in the country”. Brexit, he adds, has plunged the UK into serious crisis and made it “a navel-gazing, provincial country instead of the interconnected nation it once was”.

Bernardine Evaristo has just published in Spain Blonde Roots (AdN), a novel that stirs consciences on slave trade through the humorthe provocation and the irony. The writer creates a dystopia in which it is black Africans who enslave Europeans. In this alternate universe, Doris, the protagonist of Elle, is a blue-eyed English girl trying to escape her masters.

QUESTION.- What can we find in blond roots?
ANSWER.- We have found a Alternate universe of my invention in which the Africans are the ones who enslave the Europeans and a character, the protagonist called Doris, who is torn from her home in England to take her to the New World where she will try to escape.

“I doubt very much that anyone could read the book, understand it and be offended by it”

Q.- Has anyone been offended by this way of approaching a situation as shameful as slavery?
A.- Anyone who reads the book will immediately understand that what I am doing is exploring the Atlantic slave trade through a white story, but I am in no way appropriating the story. What I do is use this immersion to explore slavery on the one hand and its legacy on the other, which in our case was anti-black racism. I highly doubt anyone could read the book, understand it, and be offended by it. What I did was write a book that denounced slavery and racism.

“Satire is a very good tool to penetrate some very complex global issues that we face”

Q.- Irony and humor are essential tools in your literature. How do you use them in matters as serious and transcendental as racism or slavery?
R.- In ‘blonde roots I use what I call savage satire, because it goes to the knife. I think it’s useful for highlighting slavery, in my work I haven’t used satire much, but I think it’s a very useful tool for exposing the weaknesses, frailties and flaws of some things. In this case, by reversing this historical episode of slavery and creating an alternate universe that doesn’t really know what time in history it takes place, or if it’s a time in the past or the future, it is a bit blurry. It’s something that came very naturally to me while writing. I enjoyed it very much. Satire is a great tool for penetrating some very complex global issues that we face.

“Satire and expression must be free, but we cannot use it as something immutable monolithic”

Q.- In Spain there have been controversies and even court convictions for dealing with issues such as terrorism through humor. Are there limits to humor?
A.- One could ask, for example, if it is licit to apply satire to something like the sexual abuse of children. There is a line we cannot cross. On the one hand, satire and expression should be free and there should be no taboo subjects, but neither can we use it as something immutable monolithic. Much depends on how each individual, each artist or each author approaches their subject or theme. For example, satirizing terrorism in a society where there has recently been an attack, because it is probably not very well received: But if we are talking about ten years later, maybe there is already had a period of reflection and it is understood differently. way. That is to say that on the one hand it is a universal and valid tool whose use should have no type of limit, but at the same time it is very dependent on the context and the individual who uses it. uses. There is also a point, which is up to the individual, to what extent it is perceived as a satire or not. There are people whoWhereAnd he doesn’t understand it very well.

“With my books, I intend to challenge stereotypes, assumptions and prejudices that people may have”

Q.- Do you seek provocation with your literature?
A.- Yes, with my books I intend to challenge stereotypes, assumptions and prejudices that people may have. Some of my books are more provocative than others and ‘blonde roots it is perhaps the most, because of the subject and the way I explore it. In the end, what I like is to question the vision that people have of black life, what interests me to explore is the African diaspora and I am passionate about exploring the heterogeneity of the existence of people of African descent in the world, often questioning this homogeneous vision of them.

“The truth is, I wouldn’t want to consider myself in the same category as so-called influencers”

Q.- Do you consider yourself an influencer?
A.- The word influencer It comes from social media and a type of people who, other than getting a lot of attention, don’t do much else in their lives. Ultimately, as a writer, it’s true that I’ve gained some public consideration and a lot of media attention. I now have a platform that I didn’t have when I started writing. People listen to what I have to say. In this sense, you can say that I am influential. However, this category of influencers usually refers to models, people who strip or share photos of their cat. The truth is, I wouldn’t like to consider myself in the same category as this type of people, the so-called influencers.

Q.- What is certain is that your opinions or comments affect many people given the public projection you have.
A.- You must distinguish, as a writer, it is true that I have a certain popularity and everything I say is received in a certain way in this area. But when it comes to current affairs, I wouldn’t want to overestimate the scope of my opinions, because they don’t go as far as those of a politician. those from Asset, for example. Or people who are on social media and have a million followers, their reviews have hundreds of thousands of responses. This doesn’t usually happen to me. Yes recently, I gave my opinion on the cancel culture and there I got a high number of responses, but nothing comparable.

“I never would have guessed that barack obama not only would he read my book but he would choose it as one of his favorite books of 2019″

Q.- How does it feel to have personalities like Barack Obama among your readers?
A.- The truth is that it is quite surreal. I never would have guessed that barack obama not only would he read my book, but he would choose it as one of his favorite books of 2019. It was with ‘Girl, woman, others and the truth is, it’s pretty amazing when very famous people read your book and promote it. This happens a lot in the United States. Not only Barack Obama, but also for example Roxanne Gay. It’s great for me because it allows me to reach a much wider audience and as a writer that’s what I want. There are people with great platforms. For example, I was interviewed Natalie Portman for this same book and, following it, other very famous people in the world of fashion such as Kaia Gerber, Emma Roberts or Naomi Campbell They also started promoting my work. It is something surreal and wonderful.

Q.- What legacy does Boris Johnson leave in the UK?
A.- The legacy of Boris Johnson was to get us out of the European Union with lies. He was one of the first to lie about non-existent issues as a result of our joining the EU. He did it to strengthen his career as a journalist through this lying sensationalism then to become prime minister. We can say that the game went very well.

On top of that, he plunged us into a crisis following his exit from the EU and, in addition, in his management of the pandemic, he dictated many rules that he expected from everyone, but he ignored. Not only that, but he lied about it. As a right-wing politician, he is absolutely a liar and a destroyer. There is no excuse for what he did. He is a completely toxic character who will be remembered as someone who sowed desolation in the country. Half the country was against him. Brexit and what it will do is turn the UK into a navel-gazing provincial country instead of the interconnected nation it used to be.

Q.- As a feminist woman and fighter for equality, what message would you put forward in the celebration of March 8?
A.- What I would say is that we must all make this fight for equality our own. If we give up on continuing to fight for equality, we will step back. We see this in several European countries and in the United States with abortion laws, for example, and the freedom of a woman to decide whether she wants to have a child is called into question in what supposes a violation of the social contract in relation to women’s rights. We must not stop fighting for equality. We cannot lose.

Lola R. McClure