Ethiopian novelist Maaza Mengiste reads from her work and discuss the state of contemporary African literature.
Maaza Mengiste is the author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a recipient of a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She was also named the 2013 Puterbaugh Fellow and a Runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her fiction and nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, New York Review of Books/NYR Daily, Granta, the Guardian, New York Times, Rolling Stone, BBC Radio, Guernica, and Lettre International, among other places. Both her fiction and nonfiction examine the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile, and consider the intersections of photography and violence. She was a writer on the documentary film, GIRL RISING, as well as THE INVISIBLE CITY: KAKUMA. She currently serves on the boards of Words Without Borders and Warscapes. Her second novel, The Shadow King, is forthcoming.
BENEATH THE LION’S GAZE
This memorable, heartbreaking story opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Yonas, a weary college professor, kneels in his mother’s prayer room, pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family and country. His father, Hailu, a prominent doctor, has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state-sanctioned torture to die. And Dawit, Hailu’s youngest son, has joined an underground resistance movement—a choice that will lead to more upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells a gripping story of family, of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction. It is a story about the lengths human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution. Emotionally gripping, poetic, and indelibly tragic, Beneath The Lion’s Gaze is a transcendent and powerful debut.