The Emperor's Babe: A Novel

The Emperor's Babe: A Novel

Paperback

By (author) Bernardine Evaristo

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 22mm | 181g
  • Publication date: 25 April 2005
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140297812
  • ISBN 13: 9780140297812
  • Sales rank: 250,446

Product description

"The Emperor's Babe" is Bernardine Evaristo's unique lyrical portrait of Roman London. Meet Zuleika: sassy girl about town, hellraiser, bored ex-child-bride, black Roman in Londinium, AD 211. In the place (and time) to be...Through the bustling, hustling city, its slum tenements and sumptuous villas, we follow Zuleika, feisty and precocious daughter of Sudanese immigrants made good. Married to a fat, rich absent Roman, she is stranded in luxurious neglect, until, one day, Septimus Severus, the Emperor himself, comes to town, bringing with him not just love - but danger...Funky and funny, sexy and moving, this novel in verse is a triumph of imaginative writing - and of sheer lyrical and emotional vitality. "A heroine of ancient times for the modern age ...a glittering fiction whose words leap off the page into life. Brilliant". ("The Times"). "Funny, engaging and daring". ("Independent on Sunday"). "Exhilarating ...wildly entertaining then deeply affecting". (Ali Smith). "Adventurous, compelling and utterly original. You won't read another book like it this year". ("The Times"). Bernardine Evaristo is the author of three critically acclaimed 'verse novels' - "Lara", "The Emperor's Babe" (which won the Arts Council Award in 2000) and "Soul Tourists" - and two prose novels, "Blonde Roots" and "Mr Loverman". Evaristo is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, and was awarded an MBE in 2009. She lives in London.

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Author information

Bernardine Evaristo's debut novel, LARA, was published to wide critical acclaim, and won the Emma Best Book Award in 1999. She is a former Poet in Residence at the Museum of London, and her work has been widely anthologized. She won a prestigious Arts Council Writers Award in 2000.

Review quote

?Smart, imaginative, and readable . . . A rich farrago of historical fact and outrageous fancy.? ("The New York Times Book Review") A heroine of ancient times for the modern age... a glittering fiction... brilliant.? ("The Times," London) A riotous, racy whirl through Roman Londinium... Bernardine Evaristo has spun a captivating tale in verse.? (Robert Fagles)

Editorial reviews

Holy Po-Mo, Batman! How about a historical, multicultural, transgender novel-in verse, yet!-about a colony of third-century Africans living in London under the empire (the Roman empire, that is). There are some stories that just can't be told straight, and newcomer Evaristo doesn't bother trying. She lets herself go wild in this account of the fabulous life and celebrated adventures of Zuleika, a Sudanese girl ("Illa Bella Negreeta") whose parents brought her from Khartoum to London-er, make that Londinium-and married her off to a Roman nobleman before she had even come within spitting distance of puberty. Her husband Felix was an old man in his 30s, very rich, and hardly ever in town, and he saw to most of Zuleika's needs, installing her in a gigantic house with an army of servants to attend to her. The problem was that he attended to other matters himself, and left her completely on her own. So she became a club kid in short order, hanging out at the ultra-hip Mount Venus nightclub with all the trannies and fashionistas and even became tight with transvestite goddess Venus herself. Zuleika soon becomes a fixture of the downtown scene, getting her frocks from the best shops and trading adulterous gossips with her girlfriends. Eventually she is spotted at the theater by the Emperor Septimus Severus, who happens to be passing through his British colonies on a kind of goodwill tour, and the two are struck by a thunderbolt. True love at last! And Felix can hardly complain, even if he were of a mind to, since everybody has to stand aside to let the Emperor cut in. Unfortunately for Zuleika, however, the Emperor is a king as well as a lover, and a soldier as well as a king. And soldiers have a way of dying in battle. Truly crazy, lots of fun, and more than slightly perverse: this reads like an episode of Sex and the City written by Ovid. (Kirkus Reviews)