Nov 18, 2019 - Nov 18, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
City of Asylum @ Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
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.”
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 Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.