The Emperor's Babe by Bernardine Evaristo
Publisher: Penguin 2002
PB: 272 pp
A coming-of-age tale to make the muses themselves roar with laughter and weep for pity -- sassy, razor-sharp and transformative.
Londinium, AD 211. Zuleika is a modern girl living in an ancient world. She's a back-alley firecracker, a scruffy Nubian babe with tangled hair and bare feet - and she's just been married off a fat old Roman. Life as a teenage bride is no joke but Zeeks is a born survivor. She knows this city like the back of her hand: its slave girls and drag queens, its shining villas and rotting slums. She knows how to get by. Until one day she catches the eye of the most powerful man on earth, the Roman Emperor, and her trouble really starts . . .
Silver-tongued and merry-eyed, this is a story in song and verse, a joyful mash-up of today and yesterday. Kaleidoscoping distant past and vivid present, The Emperor's Babe asks what it means to be a woman and to survive in this thrilling, brutal, breathless world.