#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Adult Books Lifespan of a Reader Literary Fiction Reading Themes

[#DecolonizeBookshelves2022] Zuleika’s Gilded Cage as “The Emperor’s Babe”

"I knew you would make my world larger, It was so small, inside and out, I would discover more of myself through you." - The Emperor's Babe by Bernardine Evaristo

Myra here.

The Emperor’s Babe [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Bernardine Evaristo Published by Penguin (2020, first published 2001) ISBN: 0241989841 (ISBN13: 9780241989845) Bought a copy of the book. Book quotes and layout via Canva and Typorama.

This is the eleventh book that I am reviewing / featuring as part of our #DecolonizeBookshelves2022 reading theme from my target list of 25 books (for this year) from This Is The Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelf In 50 Books (Amazon | Book Depository) – and the ninth novel written by a female author.

My book log indicates that I started reading the book on July 07 while in New York and finished it on July 12 while in California.

I read, enjoyed, and reviewed Bernardine Evaristo’s award-winning Girl Woman Other (Amazon | Book Depository), so I was looking forward to reading this book written as a novel-in-verse. It may just be the timing or where I am at this point in my life, but I did not find myself connecting with the story as much as I expected. I felt that there was more attention focused on the poetic form (keeping the couplet structure throughout the narrative) rather than the actual storytelling.

I actually enjoyed the sections where the author broke out of the couplet style and just ‘freestyled’ her way through her narration. I think Evaristo may have lost me somewhere in the middle to three-fourths of the story, then there was the twist towards the end that made me fear for Zuleika’s fate, but this is a largely light-hearted tale, despite the piercing underpinnings of female subservience and the weapons Zuleika learned to use to unshackle both her spirit and physical body from subservience.

I also admired the inventiveness of using poetry and modern-day witticisms to what is ostensibly a story set during ancient times. It feels like a story that may have evolved from a writing workshop gone wild. I am glad to be featuring mostly female authors from This Is The Canon list – but would most likely share a few male authors eventually.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 73 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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