Blonde Roots: From the Booker prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

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Blonde Roots: From the Booker prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

Blonde Roots: From the Booker prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

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Language itself becomes a source of comedy in the novel’s final section, when Doris ends up in the West Japanese plantations and learns the slaves’ patois. Not easy to read at first, but that’s not what bothered me: why is it so very close to Afro-Caribbean patois rather than anything derived from British English, given that’s where the slaves are from? Evaristo does not quite get all the nuances right, but that is quibbling; it’s a novel that is well worth reading. Additionally, the author adds a bunch of anachronistic nonsense that makes the book even harder to read.

Bernadine Evaristo clearly relishes aspects of building her imaginary world, giving us place names such as Doklanda and Wata Lo as well as subverting western beauty standards and throwing in the odd anachronistic detail to keep us on our toes.Se gli uomini di razza bianca fossero così intelligenti, come si dichiara nelle tesi della supremazia della razza bianca sulle altre, non si sarebbero mai sognati di inventare le razze: “Il cranio caucasidoide, viceversa, è purtroppo destinato ai gradini più bassi della scala del Genere Umano. Fugge di nuovo, viene catturata, picchiata duramente e mandata a fare lavori manuali in una piantagione di canna da zucchero. Similarly, the slaves’ church is more like black gospel churches than a hybrid of the Church of England and the beliefs of the slavers in the story. The narrator describes her captors: `All the stories I'd heard were true because even though it was cold, they wore only cotton strips to cover their privates so they shivered and sneezed and were covered with goose pimples . This works as a metaphor for the whole book with characters, plot and details all being recognisable but twisted to make you think.

A premissa do livro é muito boa (uma escravatura ao contrário, em que os brancos são os escravizados) e as primeiras páginas prometem. Bernardine Evaristo, of British and Nigerian descent, has come up with an ingenious way of refreshing the horrors of the slave trade: by creating a photographic negative of historical reality, where what was black becomes white and vice versa. An account of one woman’s story living through the tragedy and obscenity of the transatlantic slave trade…but given one hell of a twist! Infatti, gli schiavi questa volta sono i bianki (whytes nell'edizione originale), mentre i padroni e gli schiavisti sono i neghri (blaks, nell'edizione originale).

Die Autorin schafft einen berührenden, lustigen, schockierenden, zum Nachdenken anregenden Roman, der aufzeigt, was für willkürliche Konstrukte schwarz und weiß, oben und unten, Norden und Süden, falsch und richtig eigentlich sind. Affidandosi alla “scienza esatta dell’Antropometria Craniofeciale, disciplina di acclarato valore che misura le dimensioni dei crani, all’interno del rigoroso e stimatissimo campo dell’Antropologia Fisica. Anyone reading this will find that you have to look at your own prejudices and consider how they effect your actions and reactions. Doris odia il caldo tropicale e sente la mancanza del freddo, delle nebbie e della pioggia della sua terra natale. It’s more than just a fiction story – it’s a brain-flexing read, a game well played by Evaristo, and a captivating exercise of turning what you know upside-down.

Hers is an alien universe that bears enough echoes of our own for the book to be deliberately unsettling. It alternates between two points of view, the heroine (a white slave girl) and our antagonist (a black slave trader). When Evaristo sticks to these aspects of her story, I think it works amazingly well; however, she makes some odd auxiliary choices. This is Evaristo’s first novel entirely in prose - her background is as a poet and her first three books were all partly in verse - but her language retains its musicality and exuberance, particularly in Doris’s un-self-pitying, drily comic tone.Some said that the guns the greedy aristocrats received in exchange for slaves encouraged them to start more wars just to meet the demand of the slave traders who wanted a yearly increase in exports. This ingenious bit of "what-if" speculation provides the backdrop for a thrilling adventure about a "whyte" woman named Doris Scagglethorpe who works as a "house wigger" for Chief Kaga Konata Katamba. Reading it so soon after the Book of Night Women, an entirely passionate, serious, heartrending and hair raising book about Caribbean slavery, this too clever by half superficial retread especially grated. I really liked it, and again enjoyed the springing vitality of the language that I liked in The Emperor's Babe -- it must come from Evaristo's being a poet.

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