Bernardine Evaristo is named the Bookseller’s 151st Person of the Year

We are the thrilled that the Bookseller has named Bernardine Evaristo their 151st Person of the Year. They said of the author:

“Making wads of cash for British booksellers is not why we have named Evaristo this year’s 151st, our de facto person of the year. No, it is for using her newfound celebrity and power for good. Evaristo’s campaigning voice, amplification of causes and authors dear to her heart, and sheer energy have been a wonder to behold. A whizz through some of the initiatives she has participated in include: collaborating with theRoyal Society of Literature (RSL) Sky Arts on a mentoring scheme for writers of colour; lobbying government on changing copyright law proposals that would enable cheap imported books to be sold in the UK; launching a scholarship scheme for Black and Asian writers with Brunel University; creating a BAME poets prize with Bloodaxe Books; and, through razor-sharp and powerful campaigning, forcing exam board OCR and schools to diversify their reading lists and curriculum. We could go on, but you get the drift.

This year Evaristo was both elected as an international member to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) and named the RSL’s president, the first person of colour and just the second woman in the post in the RSL’s 200-year history. Both organisations have long been bastions of the establishment—two former US presidents have served as heads of the AAAS. But, with the RSL in particular, Evaristo’s role signals something more: that even these formerly fusty and exclusive institutions are actively and urgently committed to being inclusive and continuing to change to meet the needs of the 21st century. This should be applauded.

The two years since Evaristo won her Booker has, of course, been a very difficult time. Not just the pandemic; it has also encompassed the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter protests and, subsequently, increased discussions about institutional racism and the need for diversity and inclusion. It is not just lucky for the book trade that Evaristo, with her campaigning voice and moral compass, has been given this raised platform for her activism in this testing time. It has been essential.”

You can read the full profile here.