Maaza Mengiste: When Italy Invaded Ethiopia (2020 Event)

In Maaza Mengiste’s latest novel, the shadowy nature of figures from the past is played out in complex and interlocking ways. The Shadow King is powerful, stirring historical fiction that centres women within stories of war and battle that have traditionally excluded them, eliding their contribution and their fight.

Against the backdrop of Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, this is a story of Africa and Europe, of resistance and exile, of tradition and modernity, that is sweeping in vision and intimate in affect.

A Fulbright scholar and the author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze — named by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books — Mengiste talks to Jess Brough in this event recorded live at the 2020 Book Festival about giving life to the stories of her parents and grandparents, and unpicking ‘faded documents’ to better understand the heroism and loss of the past.

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