Part coming-of-age story and part how-to manual, the book is, above all, one of the most down-to-earth and least self-aggrandizing works of self-reflection you could hope to read. Evaristo’s guilelessness is refreshing, even unsettling ... With ribald humour and admirable candour, Evaristo takes us on a tour of her sexual history ... Characterized by the resilience of its author, it is replete with stories about the communities and connections Evaristo has cultivated over forty years ... Invigoratingly disruptive as an artist, Evaristo is a bridge-builder as a human being.
Throughout, the book deftly combines the personal and the political ... Intersectionality runs through this book like a quiet but mighty river. I particularly enjoyed the stories about the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, including the underground queer subculture. These are all influences that have shaped the course of Evaristo’s life and the depth of her literary vision ... Diversity is treasured in this book but there is an equal emphasis on equality and inclusion...She does not shy away from difficult debates on who has the right to tell which story ... a beautiful, thoughtful and honest book about never giving up, even when it feels like you are 'writing into a void'. It is also a meditation on personal transformation, cultural inequalities, activism, belonging, love and friendships – and above all, the power of creativity.
Manifesto, which could otherwise be called Portrait of the Artist as a Young Black Woman, is a much needed accounting of a Black woman's coming of age through the journey of creating a profoundly authentic creative life ... Manifesto resonates with tenderly drawn stories of Evaristo's family history — beginning with mourning the grandmother whom she never met and trying to find a connection to her Nigerian family, a familiar story of Africans caught in the rapacious capitalistic project of European colonization ... This personal reflection allows Evaristo to delve into an incisive analysis of class and race in the United Kingdom ... What sustains Evaristo throughout is this: a dedication to the craft of writing and an astute awareness of the importance of community. Evaristo understood that for Black artists, whose art was shut of the mainstream conversation, the creation of art also necessitated the creation of community ... Manifesto revels in the stories behind Evaristo's writing — the formation of each book as well as the formation of the artist engaged in the act of creation. Here, one of the foremost writers of the age unwinds her career and life. In doing so, she has given us a nonfiction bildungsroman that is a towering monument to the creative life of Black women.
... offers unalloyed insights into the making of a writer, illuminating the artistic journey of the author in an important and refreshing perspective on publishing and creativity in Britain in the last 40 years ... exhilarating ... With remarkable candour and humour, she charts her family’s history, her artistic trajectory from youth theatre to poetry and beyond, and a movable feast of lovers of both sexes in a romantic life whose ambition veers towards the epic. At every point, she ties it all back to how these experiences have made her the writer she is today ... a moving and highly readable account of a creative life, atomizing the hard graft of writing as experienced by an author who was growing up at a time when the term, 'Black British' was seen as an oxymoron ... While there is much more to be done to open up the space for a more diverse publishing industry, Manifesto is a timely reminder of just how far we have come.
Fans of Evaristo's work will discover in Manifesto the passionate core of this unstoppable force in 21st-century literature ... The author's soulful exploration of her early years, accompanied often by hilarious observations, reveal a courageous young woman who compromised nothing in pursuit of her artistic endeavors, including drama and theater ... Evaristo's personal manifesto, summarized at the end of this remarkable book, is ripe with inspiration for those who come after her, her advice timeless and applicable to readers at every stage of their artistic endeavors.
Herein lies the primary aim of Evaristo’s work: to give everyone a feeling of belonging, especially those who are underrepresented. To this end, the memoir concludes with a passionate plea from Evaristo—titled the 'Evaristo Manifesto'—for creatives to 'have the opportunity to create, share & consume stories that reflect their cultures & communities, so that we all feel equally validated.' Evaristo’s memoir serves as proof of how one writer found her place in the world through storytelling, giving artists a roadmap to a deeper understanding of their own lives through the act of creating.
Manifesto is the sturdy, exuberant memoir of a writer who, in pushing herself, also pushed an entire field. Four decades and eight novels into her career, Evaristo became an 'overnight success' in 2019, when her polyphonic Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize. Her unconventional path is laid out here in breezy prose ... a behind-the-scenes companion text that goes down smoothly ... When the only copy of a work is literally trashed for a do-over, the reader is left to wonder how much of Evaristo’s own heart she had let go, what the next excavation will require of her ... an irresistibly paradoxical invitation to writers: Create a literature of those left behind, by letting your heart run free.
... lively and important ... [Evaristo's] story up until this point is worth reading not just because it is an entertaining account of a noteworthy life, but because she is unfailingly generous in delineating how she became herself. I have read few memoirs where the author demonstrates so explicitly how they arrived at their current success ... Evaristo serves up scrupulous honesty throughout ... I found it very moving to read about the affirmations she wrote for herself and how these applied both to work and love – both appeared to have worked out for her, in spades. She also describes her writing process, particularly writing her first novel Lara (1997), with an admirable lack of hauteur.
Evaristo offers her own story ... Evaristo structures her memoir thematically rather than chronologically, in seven long sections covering topics such as family, romance, writing and activism ... With candor and even some humor, she looks back on an early abusive relationship, nicknaming her ex The Mental Dominatrix, or TMD. It’s a good example of the way Evaristo can write about a heavy subject thoughtfully yet conversationally ... Manifesto is not a self-help book, but Evaristo’s long, persistent journey to becoming a lauded novelist is inspiring, especially for any writer who’s struggled to get a story published ... a thoughtful, vivid, often funny work of nonfiction that refuses to play it safe.
... combines the personal with the practical to powerful effect ... Unconventional as it may be, the format works: the autobiographical parts of the book serve as vivid lessons about the power of change, growth and self-confidence ... Evaristo’s frank observations about British society and the challenges of growing up in it as a mixed-race woman are entertaining as well as instructive. She is good on the complexities of Britain’s class system ... Many of the social issues of Evaristo’s youth feel highly relevant today, a reflection of the sometimes cyclical nature of social history ... The personal stories Evaristo tells serve as drivers of the central theme: her honesty about rejection and, consequently, the power of never giving up ... Since it’s easy to imagine that a writer of her stature started out with a knack for producing award-winning fiction, details of the insecurities that haunt her are comforting, even inspiring ... Evaristo’s exposure of the bare bones of the publishing process feels like being let in on a great secret.
One of the most charming aspects of the book is that [Evaristo] starts every chapter with Old English, Yoruba, Irish, German and Portuguese translations of the chapter number — the languages her ancestors spoke ... the most striking feature of this moving and enjoyable book is her fearless openness in the face of these struggles.
If 'perseverance is genius in disguise,' then Bernardine Evaristo is a 22-carat gold, diamond-encrusted genius. She is the patron saint of persistence and proves it with her ninth book ... Whether homosexual or hetero, she was always a feminist and approached her struggle for success with a winning strategy: persistence — no matter what ... Now 62, Evaristo is unsparing about her own racism ... She addresses 'colorism or shadism' ... When Bernardine Evaristo wrote her first novel, Lara, in 1997, she wrote, in part, an affirmation about winning the Booker Prize. Twenty-two years and eight books later, she finally received it. Dreams really do come true.
This kind of ad-speak for equality pops up often in this book ... If the politics in Manifesto sometimes feel confusing, many readers will be grateful for a guided tour into the mind of a literary pioneer.
... both a candid account of how it felt to grow up as the child of a biracial marriage in a racist British society and a refreshingly honest portrait of the highs and lows of the artistic existence ... Evaristo’s fans and fellow writers will appreciate her efficient survey of her novels and the process of creative experimentation with a variety of literary forms over seven previous works that culminated in Girl, Woman, Other...Rather than shaping her art to respond to popular trends, her journey is a quietly inspiring one of perseverance and an unswerving commitment to a determined artistic vision.
What a fascinating life Evaristo has led ... Evaristo continues to fight the perception that multicultural writing is provincial or somehow less worthy than writing from the dominant white European perspective ... an inspiring yet unassuming memoir from a woman of indomitable creative energy.
Evaristo details the journey between her fraught beginnings and her career triumphs, and the result is part memoir and part meditation on determination, creativity, and activism. She writes with welcome candor and clarity about her biracial heritage, her fledgling early career in theater, and her rocky romantic relationships with both men and women. The author’s passion and commitment to community especially shine through in her guidance to writers at all levels about the importance of envisioning the best outcomes for themselves and for their work—and protecting themselves from naysayers ... Evaristo inspires while keeping it real, deftly avoiding the sentimentality and vagueness that too often plague advice books. She lays bare the nuts and bolts of her writing process; pushes back against sexism, racism, and ageism; and imparts her hard-won wisdom unapologetically and with refreshing nuance ... A beautiful ode to determination and daring and an intimate look at one of our finest writers.
Though her personal narrative movingly speaks to themes of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia and how she overcame them, Evaristo’s writing occasionally falls into platitudes ... Still, readers will find much to ruminate over in this meditation on the power of art and persistence.