“Ethiopia’s 1974 revolution tears a family in half in this striking debut. Mengiste is as adept at crafting emotionally delicate moments as she is deft at portraying the tense and grim historical material, while her judicious sprinkling of lyricism imbues this novel with a vivid atmosphere.That the novel subjects the reader to the same feelings of hopelessness and despair that its characters grapple with is a grand testament to Mengiste’s talent.” * Publisher’s Weekly * “An arresting, powerful novel that works on both personal and political levels.” * Kirkus * “Lucid and compelling… Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an extraordinary novel, which assembles a dauntingly broad cast of characters and, through them, tells stories that nobody can want to hear, in such a way that we cannot stop listening. Although set more than thirty years ago, Mengiste’s novel is timely and vital. Its illumination of a world unfamiliar to most shows us how individuals will fight to retain their humanity in the face of atrocity.” — Claire Messud * Bookforum * “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an important novel, rich in compassion for its anguished characters” — Lorraine Adams * New York Times Book Review * “Both brilliant and overwhelmingly powerful” — Belinda Otas * New African Woman *
About the Author
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she was named “New Literary Idol” by New York Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Ninth Letter and 42opus, has been translated and published into German and Romanian for Lettre International, and can be found in the Seal Press anthology Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time. She has received fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Yaddo. She currently lives in New York.
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Yonas kneels in his mother’s prayer room, pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family and country. His father, Hailu, a prominent doctor, has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state-sanctioned torture to die. And Dawit, Hailu’s youngest son, has joined an underground resistance movement-a choice that will lead to more upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia. Maaza Mengieste’s powerful debut tells a gripping story of family and of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction. It is a story about the lengths to which human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution. Emotionally gripping, poetic and indelibly tragic, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is a transcendent story that introduces a powerful new voice.