The Emperor’s Babe

The Emperor’s Babe

Penguin, 2001
A verse novel about a black girl growing up in Roman London 1800 years ago.

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Londinium, 211 AD. A city of slum tenements and sumptuous villas, of orgy queens, drag queens and drama queens. A city where the currency is often sex, where children go to work aged five and marriage is a career move. Through the bustling city, we follow Zuleika – feisty and precocious daughter of Sudanese immigrants-made-good. Married off at eleven to Felix, a rich Roman three times her age, perpetually away on business, Zuleika drifts about his villa, bored, until one night several years later when Septimius Severus, the Roman emperor, newly arrived in town, spots her at the theatre…

‘If there is any justice in the world, The Emperor’s Babe will be a huge hit. Fictions like Evaristo’s, overflowing with energy and originality, are as rare as the sauteed peacock brains she has her heroine consume…’

– The Times

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