Reni Eddo-Lodge and Bernardine Evaristo Break New Records

Reni Eddo-Lodge, a British journalist and author, is disenchanted by her achievement this week. Along with the announcement of her accomplishment, Eddo-Lodge voiced her upset at such a triumph only being achieved recently.

Diverse Voices Female Authors

Reni Eddo-Lodge, a British journalist and author, is disenchanted by her achievement this week. Her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, rose to number one on the non-fiction paperback chart in the United Kingdom, making her the first black British author to attain this feat. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement following the heartbreaking death of George Floyd, Eddo-Lodge’s book (published in 2017) garnered increased interest. It is of little surprise as the publication covers important and impactful themes such as structural racism and the frequent denial of its prevalence within society.

Along with the announcement of her accomplishment, Eddo-Lodge voiced her upset at such a triumph only being achieved recently.

Can’t help but be dismayed by this – the tragic circumstances in which this achievement came about. The fact that it’s 2020 and I’m the first. Let’s be honest. Reader demand aside, that it took this long is a horrible indictment of the publishing industry.

Additionally, Bernardine Evaristo was the first woman of color to top the fiction paperback chart this week with her novel Girl, Woman, Other, published in May of last year. The book chronicles twelve characters, most of whom are black women, and their experiences in the world. Evaristo relayed her thoughts on the predominance of stereotypes in fiction novels.

Fiction is therefore an incredibly effective way of delving into human psychology and behaviour and thereby deepens our understanding of each other. How sad and troubling, then, that we’re not seeing more novels that speak to our demographic realities. Conversely, fiction that adheres to stereotypes of blackness or which play out the well-worn tropes of suffering and victimhood are not useful. We are not here to be pitied, problematised, pathologised. Literature has the power to accentuate our humanness and transcend perceived differences, especially in the face of assumptions based on stereotypes, which for black men in public spaces is that they are dangerous criminals, probably muggers, regardless of all visual evidence declaring otherwise.

As both Eddo-Lodge and Evaristo conclude, there are many changes that need to be made in our society to support and validate the experiences of those within the black community. We must place equal value upon black literature, as those outside the community can only learn from works written by those who have lived it. Mutual respect is derived from understanding one another, and by giving black authors a more inclusive space, we can enrich the lives of others and ourselves.

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