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In this extraordinary novel based on a true story, Chase-Riboud recounts the tragic life of Sarah Baartman, a South African herdswoman exhibited as a “scientific curiosity” in the capitals of nineteenth-century Europe. She re-creates in vivid, shocking detail the racism and sexism at the heart of European imperialism. In an unforgettable saga that ranges from Capetown to St. Helena to London to Paris and back to Africa, Chase-Riboud has fashioned a Dickensian evocation of this icon of scientific racism, whose body, sex, and brain were exploited, examined, and dissected to become synonymous with ugliness and brutality—the absolute negation of European beauty, which even today taints our Western concepts of humanity.
Evoking the grand tradition of such “monster” tales as Frankenstein and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Barbara Chase Riboud, prize-winning author of the classic Sally Hemings, again gives voice to an “invisible” of history. In this powerful saga, Sarah Baartman, for more than 200 years known only as the mysterious lady in the glass cage, comes vividly and unforgettably to life.
“Any book by Chase-Riboud is bound to be a knock-down, drag-out good read.” —Washington Times
“Barbara Chase-Riboud writes with a quill of eloquence that is indeed a sword, sounding with the spirituality of Toni Morrison and the passion of Charles Dickens.” —Elaine Brown, author of A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B.