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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 15, 2014

If… Bernardine Evaristo’s (Gendered) Reconstructions of Black European History

  • Ingrid von Rosenberg


Bernardine Evaristo is one of the young black British writers, who entered the literary scene in the mid-nineties. By now she has published five novels. Already in her first work Lara, a novel in verse, she was concerned with history, but her interest was limited to her family saga, i.e. the stories of both her British and Nigerian ancestors. After this strongly autobiographical text Evaristo turned her interest to the wider topic of black history in Britain and Europe. She wrote revisionist historical novels, in which the resilience and creative power of blacks are celebrated. Her approach falls in with a recent general tendency in black British culture, most marked in art, to break away from the image of blacks as victims and instead to highlight their resistance and creativity. In The Emperor’s Babe (also in verse), Soul Tourists (in prose mixed with verse) and Blonde Roots (pure prose) Evaristo experimented with three different approaches to history, yet all are marked by exuberant fantasy, empathy, humour and a bold mixture of language registers. The article investigates and compares her treatment of black history in all three texts and finally discusses the question whether and, if so, in what ways her approaches seem gendered

Online erschienen: 2014-03-15
Erschienen im Druck: 2010-10

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.

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