On my radar: Bernardine Evaristo’s cultural highlights
The writer and critic on genealogy websites, Caribbean poets and the simple pleasure of riding your bicycle
Bernardine Evaristo is an award-winning writer, editor and critic. She grew up in Woolwich, south-east London, and attended the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. She has received huge acclaim for her fiction and verse fiction, which includes Lara, Blonde Roots and The Emperor’s Babe. She has co-edited several anthologies and teaches creative writing at Brunel University. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE and she has won the EMMA Best Book award, Arts Council award and the Big Red Read award. Evaristo’s seventh book, a novel titled Mr Loverman, is available now.
Her work is very bold, colourful and provocative and she plays around with politics, culture and history in a way that speaks directly to my interests. She had a major retrospective at Tate Modern called AxME featuring 100 works from the past 20 years. It was absolutely gorgeous.
It is a sitcom about a potty-mouthed Irish matriarch and her five grown-up children. Brendan O’Carroll plays the mother and he is hysterical. The rest of the cast is made up of his family and friends. It’s smutty, crude, and a little bit slapstick – just my kind of humour.
I discovered that I like where I live more since I’ve been cyclingbecause I experience it differently. It’s a lovely, hidden and unexplored part of outer London – I can almost convince myself I’m in the countryside. Cycling takes me away from my computer and forces me to be away from technology.
It houses all the records of births, deaths and marriages. I keep returning to it to trace my mother’s side of the family and recently went back to 1788 to one of her ancestors. I find it addictive. I start to create stories about the people who have gone before me.
He was one of the first poets to publish from the Caribbean and is a major voice. He’s 90, has dementia and there’s a benefit for him at the end of September featuring leading speakers –Roger McGough, Andrew Motion, John Agard and Grace Nichols.
It’s about Jamaican women in New York, Jamaica, Calcutta and London and is written by Ifeona Fulani. It’s a beautifully constructed book of short stories about these women’s relationships, disappointments and desires. It hasn’t had much attention and deserves far more.