Embassy hosts Maaza Mengiste’s UK launch of The Shadow King

30 Jan 2020

On 28th January, the Embassy hosted the UK launch of acclaimed Ethio-American author, Maaza Mengiste’s second novel, The Shadow King, in the presence of Ambassador Fesseha and guests.

Set during Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, the novel explores female power and casts light on the women soldiers written out of African and European history.

With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, the recently orphaned Hirut longs to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Ethiopia loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale, and soon inspires other women to take up arms.

Speaking at the launch, Maaza said it took her ten years to research and write the novel, and in the process learnt Italian.

When asked why she focused on women she said that that wasn’t her plan, initially. Her research changed everything when she started finding hints and old photographs of Ethiopian women who had been enlisted into the army.

The event concluded with Maaza reading an excerpt from the novel, followed by a Q+A session, where the audience asked about her inspiration, her favourite character in the novel, and future projects.

Ahead of the launch, Ambassador Fesseha held a private audience with Maaza where he congratulated her on her latest achievement and applauded her for her narrating Ethiopia’s history from a different angle.

Maaza Mengiste presents Ambassador Fesseha with a signed copy of the book

The Shadow King is now available in bookshops and online stores nationwide.

Full coverage of the event will be up on our YouTube channel as well as our social media pages soon.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the latest updates from the Embassy and Ethiopia:  @EthioEmbassyUK.

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