Maaza Mengiste

Country: Ethiopian

Why We Love Her: Her award-winning debut novel, was an epic, Beneath The Lion’s Gaze. The heartbreaking story centres on two sons and their doctor father in 1970s Ethiopia. It is set during  the revolution overthrew Haile Selassie and this changes the characters lives forever. Maaza brought to light a part of history that is little known and understood by people outside of Ethiopia and presented a more finely drawn portrait of the country than Western media ever has. Her characters are deep, conflicted and full of conviction and the whole book is an immersive experience with a gripping plot.

“When you are convinced that everything that happens is the will of God, what is there to do but wait until God has mercy?”
― Maaza MengisteBeneath the Lion’s Gaze


Maaza also co-wrote a documentary, Girl Rising, that followed the lives of 9 African girls, their trials, tribulations and triumphs. It also highlights the global importance of education for the girl child.

Currently she is lecturing Creative Writing at both Queens College at the City University of New York and Princeton. But continues to write and publish her distinctive brand of fiction (in the form of short stories) as well as non-fiction regarding wartime and migration amongst other prescient issues.

The world waits with baited breath for her second novel, The Shadow King, which is forthcoming.

“The nature of love is to kill for it, or to die.”
― Maaza MengisteBeneath the Lion’s Gaze


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