In 1857, the shadows are falling thick and fast on what is left of the Mughal empire. The last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, is a broken, bitter man in his eighties who has retreated into religion and poetry. Zafar’s empire extends no further than the precincts of his grand palace, the Red Fort in Delhi, but this hasn’t prevented numerous court intrigues and conspiracies from flourishing within the Lal Qila; these involve the emperor’s wives, children, courtiers, hangers-on, and English functionaries among others. Flung into this poison pit is Laale, a young woman from an Afghan noble family, abducted from her home in the mountains and sold into the Mughal emperor’s court as a courtesan. Fiery, independent and beautiful, the ‘mulberry courtesan’ captures the ageing emperor’s heart, giving him hope and happiness in his last years.
Told against the backdrop of India’s great revolt of 1857, and the last days of the Mughal empire, The Mulberry Courtesan is an epic tale of romance, tragedy, courage and adventure.
SIKEENA KARMALI has written a book of poetry, Places to Remember, and a novel, A House by the Sea, which was shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada Best First Novel Award. Her writing on Muslim culture, human rights, gender and spirituality has appeared in academic publications and her articles have been translated into French and Italian. She has served on the Canada Council for the Arts peer jury for literature.Read More