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Like many writers, Bernardine Evaristo has taken inspiration from objects and spaces around her, to encourage her creativity and assist her production of words. She has kindly agreed to share with The Reading Room the things within her own house that really make her creative juices flow.

Facing her desk on a shelf sits this Mother of Croats sculpture by Ivan Mestrovic. Bernadine bought this miniature sculpture when on tour in Croatia in 2002 and it has been an inspiration to her ever since. Mestrovic created the sculpture through which he could interpret and symbolise the history of the Croatian people. The mother sculpture is the keeper of the Croatian identity and heritage and is a symbol of Homeland. For Bernardine, the sculpture reminds her of her purpose – that as a writer she is revising history and creating literature for future history.

While tackling the final edit of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine had to remind herself to be aware of some of her linguistic ticks. Here is the exact memo that she pinned to her desk to ensure that her fallback words were replaced with something else.

The plot of Girl, Woman, Other focuses around twelve central female characters and each chapter leads us through a single life, until the reader feels as if the story has come full circle and is complete. Bernardine has shared with us her use of these Ghanaian Adinkra symbols which she matched with each of the twelve characters whenever she started a new chapter. If they didn’t exactly capture the character’s essence, then at the very least they said something about each person.

Many thanks to Bernardine Evaristo for sharing these fascinating pieces with The Reading Room and providing us with such a valuable insight into her writing.

All images courtesy of Bernardine Evaristo

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