Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian novelist and essayist, who deals with themes such as migration, war, exile, revolutions with a special focus on her country of origin. She is also known for being an activist in human rights.
She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1971. The 1974 coup d’état in Ethiopia was crucial in both her personal and professional life: her family was forced to leave the state and her three maternal uncles were all amongst the victims of the revolution. She lived in Nigeria and Kenia before settling in the United States, where she studied Creative Writing at New York University. Nowadays she works as Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Queens College of the City University of New York and as Lecturer of Creative Writing in the Lewis Centre for the Arts at Princeton University.
Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe and other publications. The story is set in Addis Abeba, 1974, on the eve of revolution and it sheds light on the human price of war from the viewpoint of the anguished Hailu family: even the bonds of love and friendship are in danger. Her second novel, The Shadow King, is forthcoming and it will deal with the Italian occupation of Ethiopia: the brutal consequences of war are the leading theme again.
She also wrote fiction and nonfiction in journals such as The New Yorker, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, BBC Radio,and Lettre International and she runned up for several literature prizes.
Her activism in human rights shows up in the most various activities and associations: she works in the boarder of Warscapes, of Words Without Borders and of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights and throught her writing she raises awareness on social issues. She was a writer on the documentary film, GIRL RISING, that debates girls’ education on a global scale, featuring the voices of actors such as Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, and Cate Blanchett. She currently serves on the boards of Words Without Borders and Warscapes.
Want to know more? Here are some links.
Official website of the author: http://maazamengiste.com/
Facebook Page where to find Waterlines events: https://www.facebook.com/waterlinesproject/