Bonnie Greer: ‘I’m a searcher’

Joining Zawe Ashton this week to discuss her Bookshelfie choices is esteemed playwright and author, Bonnie Greer OBE. They discuss how Bonnie’s work and life has been informed by her inquisitive mind and how she is a life long ‘searcher.’ Bonnie is one of the UK’s most influential black cultural figures – having played a part in running numerous major institutions including the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, London Film School, RADA, Serpentine Gallery and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Listen to the full episode here >

Small Island

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2004 It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at…

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‘I love that she has no illusions, she isn’t a fantasist. She is an observer of human nature, but filtered through the British-Caribbean person which is quite wonderful.’

Their Eyes Were Watching God

When sixteen-year-old Janie is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with…

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‘I love her because she was an outlaw,  she refused to be politically correct, she was literally cancelled from 1949 until Alice Walker rediscovered her in the 70’s. She loved the musicality of black rural voices, she had a real empathy and that’s why I love this book.’

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Hogwarts, Muggles, Diagon Alley, Quidditch; the magical journey that launched a billion young readers feels just as fresh, fun and…

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‘I got this before it was actually published, I read the whole thing on a tube journey and thought “well, gosh, that’s very good.” She has such an interesting eye. And I’m thinking what a talented writer.’

Character Breakdown

Zawe Ashton has been acting since she was six. She has played many different roles, from ‘cute little girl’ to…

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‘I was struck by visceral how you were, Zawe. You were very close to whatever the protagonist was going through, it was unflinching and I appreciated that. I like to go somewhere I have never been, and never seen through my own eyes. It was like being in another world, but at the same time I could relate to everything.’


Janet Bookman Baker is trying to come to terms with her father’s death and a weekend long ago when he…

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‘This book is about transformation, it’s also very experimental. A lot of white men read the book thinking it was going to be about physics, about thermodynamics! But they stayed with the book, with three black women and I guess that’s flattering.’

If you enjoyed this re-cap of Bonnie’s favourite books and want to hear more of this brilliant conversation click here.

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The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.