Art And Culture

Novel by UK Writer on Ethiopian Slave at Qajar Court

Novel by UK Writer on Ethiopian Slave at Qajar CourtNovel by UK Writer on Ethiopian Slave at Qajar Court

Cassava Republic Press, based in the UK, is to publish a historical novel in English by 27-year-old British writer of Nigerian descent Victoria Princewill, entitled ‘In the Palace of Flowers’.

Set in 19th century Persia — in the royal Qajar court — the novel is an atmospheric historical debut in the tradition of  English author and actress Jessie Burton,  Moroccan-American novelist and essayist Laila Lalami, Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie and Ghanaian-American novelist Yaa Gyasi, said director of the publishing house Emma Shercliff.

Inspired by the only existing first-person account of an Abyssinian (Ethiopian) slave in Iran, Jamīla Habashī,  In the Palace of Flowers vividly recreates the court of the Iranian king in the 1890s, a precarious time of growing public dissent, unwanted Russian and British influence and the problem of an ageing ruler with an unfit heir. It tells the story from the perspective of two Abyssinian slaves, The Bookseller magazine wrote on its website.

“In the Palace of Flowers is a magnificent novel about the fear of being forgotten”, said the publisher. “It is about power struggles, scandal, ambition, secrets and betrayal, and it explores inequality and oppression with insight and subtlety. In this debut, Victoria Princewill shines a light on a less-known area of history in a way that feels fresh, grand and contemporary.”

Princewill studied at Oxford and UCL (University College London), with a bachelor degree in English and a master in philosophy, her work on race and contemporary culture has been published by the Guardian, the Independent, the London Review of Books and n+1 Magazine based in New York.

“Victoria gives voice to a group of people hitherto neglected by historians and writers, which adds a fascinating dimension to life in a royal court where often reality was stranger than fiction. She brings the palace to life, capturing the characters at court, the rivalries of the harem and the colors, sights and smells of bazaars in wonderful detail, whilst also interrogating ideas about gender identity, freedom and the concept of beauty.” Shercliff added.

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