Thursday, 11 November 2021

Latin, cockney slang, and teenage argot

The Emperor's Babe Bernardine Evaristo's The Emperor's Babe mixes Latin phrases, cockney slang, and teenage girls' argot. It's also written in verse form.

Zuleika, a black teenage girl who lives in Roman London tells the story. She wants to be an artist, but is married off after catching the eye of the much older Felix. The husband makes regular solo trips to Rome, leaving his young wife to entertain herself in London with her best friends Alba and Venus.

It's a story about friendship and power, and brings to life how people lived during the Roman occupation of Britain. Evaristo describes "the camaraderie of the public latrinae", the bloodthirstiness of the coliseum, and the hierarchies within society. Zuleika has a hard life, but never feels sorry for herself. Her youthful enthusiasm and vitality make her an engaging and likeable character and it was a pleasure to be in her company.

No comments:

Post a Comment