Bernardine Evaristo, first black president of the Royal Literature Society

Member of the Royal Society of Literature since 2004, winner of the Booker Prize in 2019 for her novel Girl, woman, other (translated Françoise Adelstain), Bernardine Evaristo will succeed the current president. The writer and historian Marina Warner will indeed leave her place at the end of 2021. Evaristo becomes president of the institution after having been its vice-president from November 2020. Previously, she was also vice-president of the board of directors of the British institution and chair of its program committee.

Literary society justifies this choice by presenting the novelist as having been ” a central part of a wide range of society programs and committees, from chairing events to organizing workshops for young people “. The company notably supports authors with prizes and grants, and offers awareness programs to promote reading and literature among younger generations.

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I am deeply honored to assume the role of the new President of the Royal Society of Literature. Although founded 200 years ago, the company boldly embraces the 21st century, increasingly defending the idea of ​​an egalitarian culture », Declared the future president.

Storytelling is ingrained in our DNA as human beings – it is sewn into the story arc of our lives, it is in our relationships, desires and conflicts, and it is the prism through which we explore ourselves. and understand ourselves and the world we live in. […] Literature is not a luxury, but essential to our civilization She adds.

Daughter of Nigerian immigrant and committed author

Daughter of a Nigerian immigrant welder living in England since 1949, she obtained a doctorate from the University of London. Engaged in the exploration and highlighting of origins and identity, his novels explore the condition of the African diaspora in England. Bernardine Evaristo was also the initiator of Britain’s first black women’s theater company, Theater of Black Women. Since October 2020, she has been responsible for a new collection of books for the Penguin Random House publishing house, entitled Black Britain: Writing Back, which applies itself to exhuming books by black authors. Member of the Order of the British Empire since 2009, she is an officer for services rendered to literature.

In 2021, Evaristo was named a Sky Arts Ambassador and launched the Sky Arts RSL Writers Awards, which provide mentorship and scholarships to young, diverse writers.

Administrator of the RSL, the writer Daljit Nagra for his part declared: “ We are very proud to have Bernardine Evaristo as president. She is a pioneer. As a writer, she speaks with striking originality about under-represented voices. As a lawyer, she championed neglected authors and as an activist, she expressed the value of literature. On all media, his voice resonates with a passionate open-mindedness, recognizable by its unique and essential character.

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In addition to Evaristo’s nomination, RSL also announced the names of the top twelve authors for its new International Writers Program: this award recognizes the contribution of writers from around the world to literature, enhancing its power to ” transcend borders to bring people together “. An honor that is meant to be permanent.

The first 12 writers to be recognized in this category are: Don Mee Choi, Annie Ernaux, David Grossman, Jamaica Kincaid, Yan Lianke, Amin Maalouf, Alain Mabanckou, Javier Marías, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Claudia Rankine, Olga Tokarczuk and Dubravka Ugrešić.

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Readers and writers were invited to recommend non-UK writers for nomination, before a jury made a final choice accompanied by advice from the RSL. New personalities will be invited to join RSL’s international writers each year.

Still president for the moment, Marina Warner justifies this program by the desire to ” celebrate literature beyond national borders and in solidarity with authors around the world.

Credits: Bernardine Evaristo (Twitter account)

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Bernardine Evaristo, first black president of the Royal Literature Society