Blonde Roots

By Bernardine Evaristo
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488634, 288pp.)

Publication Date: January 22, 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Paperback

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A provocative novel that upends the history of the transatlantic slave trade, reversing and reexamining notions of savagery and civilization, as it follows a young woman's journey to freedom.

Award-winning writer Bernardine Evaristo's novel Blonde Roots asks: What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? And how would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers--and sometimes festers--today?

We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman who is kidnapped one day while playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields near their home. She is subsequently enslaved and taken to the New World, as well as to the imperial center of Great Ambossa. She movingly recounts experiences of tremendous hardship and dreams of the people she's left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.

A poignant and dramatic story grounded in provocative ideas, Blonde Roots is a genuinely original, profoundly imaginative novel.

Conversation Starters from


  1. From the book’s very first paragraph, when Doris talks of Voodoomass, we know we’re entering an alternate reality, a world we’ve never seen before. Why do you think Bernardine Evaristo changed the spelling of common English words or used variations on the names of cities and places that we recognize (black to blak, white to whyte, Caucasian to Caucasoi) instead of creating an entirely new set of names, places, and races? What information does it gives us about the world of the book, even before we are familiar with Doris and her story?

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