This paper examines two contemporary British historical fictions, Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe (2002) and Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (2008), as shedding light on and offering critiques to both Britain and the world’s current multicultural state of development. Evaristo’s verse novel revisits Roman London through the perspective of its black ruler and residents to uncover the historical evidence of a multiracial and multicultural British Isles not dominated by hierarchies of difference. Rushdie’s novel, on the other hand, fantastically returns to the sixteenth century to portray the world famous Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, who is celebrated for his successful sovereignty achieved through diplomatic military policies as well as religious and cultural tolerance. Through Rushdie’s historical writing, Akbar’s great kingdom serves as an eastern counterpart to the vivacity of western Renaissance. By reviving these historical Emperors who lived and loved across cultural borders through literary imaginings of their lovers, Evaristo’s and Rushdie’s texts present critical and creative practices of multicultural progress as a mirror for today’s postcolonial age of transnationalism and globalization.
KEYWORDS: multiculturalism, historical novel, hybridity