“Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo

Main Characters*

Amma— theater director, getting her big break at the National Theatre who is the connector among the 12 characters in various ways
Yazz— Amma’s 19-year old daughter at University
Waris— friend of Yazz, Muslim
Nenet— friend on Yazz, exceedingly wealthy
Courtney— friend of Yazz, white farm girl
Roland— Yazz’s biological father
Sylvester — One of Yazz’s godparents
Dominique— good friend of Amma’s who follows lover Nzinga to live at Spirit Moon in the United States
Nzinga— dominated Dominique in their lesbian relationship
Carole— Business woman, gang-raped as a teen, who was a student in Shirley King’s high school class
Bummi— Carole’s mother, immigrant from Nigeria and housecleaner for Penelope Halifax, and entrepreneur in the cleaning business
Augustine— Bummi’s husband
Omofe— Bummi’s female lover after Augustine dies
Kofe— Bummi’s male lover after Omofe
LaTisha— good friend of Carole’s in high school, wild in high school, becomes a grocery store supervisor after working as a cashier post-high school, becomes the “new” LaTisha
Jayla— LaTisha’s half-sister
Shirley— Teacher at Peckham School for Boys and Girls, teaches both Carole and LaTisha, best friend to Amma from grammar school
Lennox— Shirley’s husband, has affair with his mother-in-law Winsome
Karen and Rachel— Shirley and Lennox’s children
Madison— Rachel’s daughter
Winsome— Shirley’s mother
Clovis— Shirley’s father
Tony and Errol— Shirley’s older brothers
Mrs. Beresford— white woman in Plymouth who gets to know Winsome
Penelope— Teacher at Peckham School, raised white by her adoptive parents, Hattie is her biological mother
Giles— Penelope’s first husband
Adam and Sarah— Penelopes and Giles’ children
Phillip— Penelope’s second husband
Megan/Morgan— identifies as gender-free, pronouns they/theirs, lectures in one of Yazz’s classes
Julie— Megan/Morgan’s mother
Bibi— Trans woman, Morgan’s partner
Hattie— 93-year old farmer and Morgan’s great grandmother, Penelope’s biological mother, Grace and Joseph’s daughter
Slim— Hattie’s husband, deceased
Ada Mae and Sonny— Hattie’s children
Julie, Sue, Paul, Marian, Jimmy, Matthew, Alan— Hattie’s grandchildren
Grace— bi-racial daughter of Abyssinian Wolde and Daisy who died of TB, Hattie’s mother
Joseph Rydendale— white WWI veteran and farmer, Grace’s husband

* courtesy of https://www.marmaladeandmustardseed.com/bookguidesblog/girl-woman-other

Book Club Questions *

1)   Evaristo says that she has no problem acknowledging herself as a Black British woman and writing from this perspective. Which fictional character in the book do you think has the most or least awareness of their own personal identity?
2)   Which character in the text has the greatest sense of ‘entitlement’? Why do you think this?
3)   Which relationship in the book do you find most credible and why? Which relationship do you find least credible and why?
4)   What ‘social’ or ‘political’ issue did you feel you became more knowledgeable about after reading the book?
5)   The stories of the women in the book frequently overlap, yet it is possible to read the different sections as mini-books in their own right. To what extent do you think the whole text needs to be read to truly understand the issues explored in it.
6)   How sympathetically do you think men are portrayed in the novel? Do you have any comment about whether they are under represented in the text, which is a criticism that could be made about the book.
7)   Shirley’s mother sleeps with her husband and is never found out? How did you respond to this betrayal?
8)   There are many betrayals in the book. What, in your opinion do you think is the greatest betrayal and why?
9)   If you could be friends with any character in the book who would you choose and why?
10) Would this book have won the Booker ten years ago? Why or why not?
Book Club Questions for the attendee who didn’t read the book!
1)   The ‘older generation’ are often excused for not understanding transgender issues and labels such as ‘binary’. Is this an acceptable position to hold?
2)   Carole failed to thank her teacher for helping her ‘get ahead’ in life. Is there a teacher who you should have thanked and didn’t in your life? What did they do to help you?
3)   Dominique spends many years berating herself for ‘staying in an abusive relationship’ with another woman. Why do women, (if they do, and if you don’t think they do let’s explore this) still blame themselves for the abuse imposed on them.
4)   Evaristo talks about her writing style as a fusion of prose and poetry. She is free and easy in her use of capitalisation and punctuation. To what extent are you a traditionalist regarding spelling, grammar and punctuation?
5)   Can the claim that a text is a book for a female audience or a book for a black female audience ever be a legitimate one? 

*courtesy of https://www.sallyflint.com/blog/girl-woman-other-bernadine-evaristo-book-club-questions-and-book-chat