Blond roots by Bernardine Evaristo


A provocative novel that upends the history of the transatlantic slave trade, reversing and reexamining notions of savagery and civilization, as it follows a young woman's journey to freedom. Award-winning writer Bernardine Evaristo's novel "Blonde Roots" asks: 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? And how would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers?and sometimes festers?today? We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman who is kidnapped one day while playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields near their home. She is subsequently enslaved and taken to the New World, as well as to the imperial center of Great Ambossa. She movingly recounts experiences of tremendous hardship and dreams of the people she's 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.


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Bernardine Evaristo was born in London to an English mother and Nigerian father. The fourth of eight siblings, she was raised in Woolwich, South London, and originally trained as an actress and worked in theatre. She is the author of two critically-acclaimed novels-in-verse: Lara (1997), which traces the roots of a mixed-race English-Nigerian-Brazilian-Irish family over 150 years, three continents and seven generations; and The Emperor's Babe (2001), the ground-breaking tragi-comic story of Zuleika, a girl of Sudanese parents, who grows up in Roman London 1800 years ago and who has an affair with the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. Her novel-with-verse, Soul Tourists (2005), is about a car journey across Europe featuring a mismatched couple, Stanley and Jessie, with appearances en route from ghosts of colour from European history such as Pushkin, Alessandro de Medici and Mary Seacole. Her novel Blonde Roots was published in 2008, and in 2010, she wrote the Quick Reads novella, Hello Mum. Mr Loverman (2014), is about a 74 year old Caribbean London man who is closet homosexual. Girl, Woman, Other (2019) tells the stories of a loosely connected group of people - mostly black women in complex mother-daughter relationships - across 120 years of British history, from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Evaristo has also written for theatre, radio, print media and for a multi-media collaboration Cityscapes with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and pianist Joanna MacGregor for the City of London Festival in 2003. She has undertaken over 50 international writers' tours since 1997, ranging from one-night readings to three-month teaching residencies. She has been a Visiting Professor at Barnard College/Columbia University in New York, Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, and Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. She also represented Britain, with the novelist Glenn Patterson, on Literaturexpress Europa 2000, which took 105 European writers through 11 European countries over six weeks by train, travelling from Portugal to Berlin via Belgium, the Baltics and Russia. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, and was awarded an MBE in 2009. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London.