“Norfolk’s ferocious, greedy originality of angle and expression evokes continuous astonishment.”The Times Literary Supplement
The Pope's Rhinoceros
978-0-8021-3988-7 • $16.00 • Paperback • May 2003
The Pope’s Rhinoceros is a vivid, antic, and picaresque novel spun around one of history’s most bizarre chapters: the sixteenth-century attempt to procure a rhinoceros as a bribe for Pope Leo X. In February 1516, a Portuguese ship sank off the coast of Italy. The Nostra Señora de Ajuda had sailed fourteen thousand miles from the Indian kingdom of Gujarat. Her mission: to bribe the “pleasure-loving Pope” into favoring expansionist Portugal over her rival Spain with the most exotic and least likely of giftsa living rhinoceros. Moving from the herring colonies of the Baltic Sea to the West African rain forest, with a cast of characters including an order of reclusive monks and Rome’s corrupt cardinals, courtesans, ambassadors, and nobles, The Pope’s Rhinoceros is at once a fantastic adventure tale and a portrait of an age rushing headlong to its crisis.