The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s MFA for Poets and Writers presents a reading by Maaza Mengiste on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. EDT on Zoom. The reading will be followed by a conversation and Q&A with MFA prose faculty member, Sabina Murray.
All Fall 2020 readings are virtual, free and open to the public. Registration for this event now open.
Maaza Mengiste is the author of the novels, “The Shadow King” and “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.”
“The Shadow King” was a New York Times’ Notable Book, one of TIME’s 100 Must-Read Books, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in Fiction in 2019. It is currently shortlisted for The Booker Prize. “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze” was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books.
Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Francesca Capossela described Mengiste’s “The Shadow King” as “A beautiful and thoughtful epic, the book celebrates the role of women in the Ethiopian resistance, illuminating how (as Mengiste writes in her author’s note) “[t]he story of war has always been a masculine story, but this was not true for Ethiopia and it has never been that way in any form of struggle.”
According to BookPage, “[when] asked what she is most proud of in The Shadow King,’ Mengiste points to ‘the freedom I gave myself. I’m really proud of the structure of the book. People will either like it or hate it, but I was willing to take the risk because I wanted to push myself as a writer—not just as a thinker but as a writer. Some of my favorite writers are those who break form. I wanted to see if I could do that under their tutelage. I’m really proud of being able to combine the stories of the Ethiopians and the Italians, to force questions about both of them, about loyalty, about racism, about being subjugated by the very people who should be protecting you. These were the questions I wanted to bring forward.’”
Maaza is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Premio il ponte/Bridge Prize, and fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital, and LiteraturHaus Zurich. Her work can be found in The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places.
The Visiting Writers Series at presents emerging and established writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The series is sponsored by the MFA for Poets and Writers and the Juniper Initiative. It is made possible by support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the University of Massachusetts Arts Council, the English department and generous alumni.