Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King

Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King
Date: Tuesday 26 January

Time: 16:00 – 17:00 (GMT)
Location: Crowdcast
Tickets: FREE (suggested donations: £2 / £5 / £10)

With Maaza Mengiste and Ndinda Kioko.

Join Booker finalist Maaza Mengiste as she discusses The Shadow King with author Ndinda Kioko from the Jalada Africa collective. 

What does it mean to be a woman at war?

Maaza Mengiste’s second novel and 2020 Booker finalist, The Shadow King, is a beautifully crafted exploration of female power within the context of personal conflict and the second Italo-Ethiopian war under Emperor Haile Selassie. With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. Her new employer, Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade. Hirut and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. It is Hirut though who offers a plan.

Joining us for the second Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club series, Maaza will be in conversation with Ndinda Kioko (Jalada Africa) about the process of writing The Shadow King and the attention given to the research, craft and structure of this critically acclaimed novel.

Following the success of our first event with Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and The First Woman, we invite you to join us for an evening of reflection on the shaping of historical fiction. Whether you have read The Shadow King or not, you will find inspiration from these two authors in conversation about literary representations of war, history and female power.

The event will take place on Crowdcast, the details will be shared 48 hours ahead of the event via email.



About The Authors

Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation programme at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the HWA Gold Crown, 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.

Ndinda Kioko is a founding member of Jalada Africa. She is also a writer and filmmaker with an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the University of Oregon. Her work has appeared on several platforms and in publications including The Black Warrior Review, The Trans-African, BBC Radio 4, Wasafiri Magazine, and Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara. She is a winner of the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, and the Black Warrior Review Fiction Prize. Ndinda has also received support from the Blue Mountain Center and the MacDowell Colony. From 2018-2019, she was an Olive B. O’Connor Fiction Fellow at Colgate University. Ndinda is currently a visiting assistant professor at Colgate University and is working on her first novel.

About the event:

Presented in partnership with Saseni!, Authors.Cafe, Jalada Africa, Festival of Ideas, Libraries Unlimited and the University of Exeter.

This event is part of the Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club series which is being launched through Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature Programme. More information on the Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club will be coming soon.

Image of Maaza Mengiste by Nina Subin.