Maaza Mengiste

Monday, November 18, 2019 @ 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
FREE TICKETS 2019-11-18 7 p.m. 2019-11-18 8:30 p.m. America/New_York Maaza Mengiste 40 W. North Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212 Alphabet City

 Join us for an evening of reading and discussion celebrating Maaza Mengiste’s new novel The Shadow King. City of Asylum’s writer-in-residence Bewketu Seyoum will open the program with a short reading. 

In The Shadow King, nothing true can remain hidden. No matter how intently characters try to suppress them, memories and past deeds fight for life. The dead and unheeded frequently find ways to “insist on resurrection.” Reality may be papered over by stories and constructed memories, but the truth resurfaces at unexpected moments and in tenacious ways. Photographs and letters emerge from the past, demanding reinterpretation. Messages arrive from old acquaintances unheard of for forty years. “She can hear the dead growing louder,” Mengiste writes. They say: “We must be heard. We must be remembered. We must be known.” An epic, elegiac novel about the majesty and influence of women warriors during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, The Shadow King lifts to the forefront the unassailable power of women’s courage and prowess in conflicts throughout history. “The story of war has always been a masculine story,” writes Mengiste, but this version of the story has never been the reality. With gorgeous, lyrical language, a heroic protagonist, and a panoramic historical story wrought with sympathy for the characters on both sides, The Shadow King is an extraordinary second novel of uncommon scope, emotion, and power. A spectacular work of literature tracing the chaos of war and the complexity of human relationships, The Shadow King reminds readers, above everything else: “Women have been there, and we are here now.”

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Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation program at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in The New YorkerGranta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

© Teake Zuidema

Bewketu Seyoum is a writer, poet, essayist, and entertainer, born in Mankusa, Ethiopia. Honored as Ethiopian Best Novelist of the Year in 2008 and Best Young Author in 2009, he is widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation. He has published six books of stories, poetry, novels, and collections of essays in English and his native language Amarhic. He is also well-known for his comedic writing and performing his short sketches. Common themes in his work include corruption of government officials, police brutality, and the absurdities of tribalism. He frequently uses humor in his work to broach politically and socially taboo subjects rarely aired in the Ethiopian public sphere. Bewketu is currently a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Event Details

November 18, 2019 @ 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
40 W. North Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

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