From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. British novelist Evaristo delivers an astonishing, uncomfortable and beautiful alternative history that goes back several centuries to flip the slave trade, with Aphrikans enslaving the people of Europa and exporting many of them to Amarika. The plot revolves around Doris, the daughter of a long line of proud cabbage farmers who live in serfdom. After she's kidnapped by slavers, she experiences the horror and inhumanity of slave transport, is sold and works her way back to freedom. The narrative cuts back and forth through time, contrasting the journey to freedom with the journey toward slavery. In a less skilled writer's hands, the premise easily could have worn itself out by the second chapter, but Evaristo's intellectually rigorous narrative constantly surprises, and, for all the barbarism on display, it's strikingly human. Evaristo's novel is a powerful, thoughtful reminder that diabolical behavior can take place in any culture, safety is an illusion and freedom is something easily taken for granted. This difficult and provocative book is a conversation sparker. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This dizzying satire imagines a counterfactual history in which the roles of Africans and Europeans in the slave trade are reversed. Doris Scagglethorpe, the daughter of English farmers, is one day snatched up from her countryside cottage by traders and sold into slavery, soon arriving on the continent of Aphrika with a master and a new name: Omorenomwara. Evaristo (who is British and biracial) couples troubling stereotypes with scenes of slavery�s hardships that are moving but somewhat generic, as if to poke fun not only at a genre or at received notions of race but, more subversively, at the contemporary reader�s privileged desire to empathize. Unfortunately, this approach precludes any truly searching exploration of the psychological implications of such a traumatic historical event, and can result in a game of invert-the-reference�the celebration of Voodoo mass, slaves being referred to as �wiggers��making for uncomfortable but ultimately cheap laughs.
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker