writers in residence
In Residence
Zurich, Switzerland
January — June 2020

Maaza Mengiste



Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American novelist, essayist and screenwriter based in New York. She was born in 1971 in Addis Ababa, and left at the age of four when her family fled the Ethiopian Revolution. She spent the rest of her childhood in Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States. 

Her novels “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze” (Norton 2010) and “The Shadow King” (Norton 2019) are set against the backdrop of the more tumultuous parts of the history of Ethiopia, i.e. the revolution of 1974 and the invasion by Mussolini in 1935. Her works are available in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Swedish. /// As of November 25, 2019

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A Short Passage

The Shadow King

“A thin blue vein pulsed in the collecting pool of blood where a bullet had lodged deep in the boy’s back. Hailu was sweating under the heat from the bright operating room lights. There was pressure behind his eyes. He leaned his head to one side and a nurse’s ready hand wiped sweat from his brow. He looked back at his scalpel, the shimmering blood and torn tissues, and tried to imagine the fervor that led this boy to believe he was stronger than Emperor Haile Selassie’s highly trained police.”

— From “The Shadow King” (New York, Norton 2019)

After a reading at the Literaturhaus Zurich, Maaza Mengiste signs her book “The Shadow King”. Photo Ralph Hut