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The most provocative debut novel of the year, "a dizzying satire" (The New Yorker) that "boldly turns history on its head" (Elle).
What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? How would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers today? We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman enslaved and taken to the New World, movingly recounting experiences of tremendous hardship and the dreams of the people she has left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.
A poignant and dramatic story grounded in provocative ideas, Blonde Roots is a genuinely original, profoundly imaginative novel.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Bernardine Evaristo was born in London to a Nigerian father and an English mother. Her first novel, Lara, won the EMMA (Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards) Best Book Award in 1999. A former Poet in Residence at the Museum of London, she won an Arts Council of Britain Writers' Award in 2000.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I didn't find this book "genuinely original and profoundly imaginative" as touted on the back cover. I've read other stories with a similar premise. Evaristo does however, make her point (or the point I think she was trying to make); that "absolute power corrupts absolutely", that there's no such thing as a "good master", and that slavery is wrong no matter which way it goes. A couple of things bothered me about the book. Evaristo depicts the white slave culture virtually identically to fictional depictions of black slave culture. Her slaves even speak a patois that sounds, when read aloud, very much like South Carolina Gullah (spoken by slave descendants on the offshore islands). I wonder whether white slaves would have developed the same patois or the same customs since they came from different roots. These concerns aside, I did enjoy the book. Evaristo draws wonderful characters and paces her story so you want to read just a bit more, and a bit more, until the book is finished.
Doris, an English serf, had heard the horror tales of "Aphrikans" coming to the Gray Continent "Europa" to abduct people so she knows to be cautious though she also wonders if those tales are exaggerated. The daughter of generations of cabbage farmers soon learns the truth when Aphrikans arrive at the coast. They abduct numerous natives including Doris and take them across the vast ocean in substandard conditions to "Amarika." where they are sold into slavery.
Former slave runner, Chief Kaga Konata Katamba I buys Doris to work on his sugar plantation. No longer dirtying his hands, Bwana as he expects his property to call him has become part of the elite of polite society. Doris tries her best to avoid slave politics and obey her Bwana though she prays for a future as a free person. When an opportunity arises for her to escape bondage for freedom, Doris decides to take a chance though if caught the punishment is extremely severe as the normally jovial Bwana will not tolerate runaway property.
This is an intriguing thought provoking premise that turns history upside down though the theme has been used frequently in literature and movies for instance the film White Man¿s Burden will hook fans from the onset. The profound story line compares the two lead characters to one another and though anecdotal leads to generalizing their traits as respective of their respective races. Can the seemingly dreary Doris survive outside of the protection of the Aphrikan¿s burden while the witty seemingly intelligent Bwana relishes his responsibility as the ¿burden¿ keeper?