Maaza Mengiste Award-winning author • Essayist • Photographer 

Maaza Mengiste is an award-winning Ethiopian-American novelist, essayist, photographer, and social justice advocate. Her second novel, The Shadow King, was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize—it was also a fiction finalist for The LA Times Book Prize in that same year. The Shadow King was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, NPR, Elle, Time, and many other publications. It is currently available in Spanish, Swedish, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Turkish, and Finnish, with more translations forthcoming.

Maaza’s debut novel Beneath The Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the ten best contemporary African books and was listed as one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications. Her story, “Dust, Ash, Flight,” which appeared in Addis Ababa Noir, edited by Maaza, was awarded a 2021 Edgar Award for Best Short Story.

In November, 2020 Doek! Literary Magazine published “The Journey Is The Joy”, the first part of a lengthy conversation with Maaza about her writing. The second and equally illuminating instalment—”The Fury Is The Hope”—was published in March, 2021. Together, these two interviews have helped to cement the Literatea interview series as an important archive of discussions about African literature and its crafting.

She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Fellowship, a Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, the Premio von Rezzori, the Premio il Ponte, a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Creative Capital Award. Her work can be found in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The Guardian, The New York Times, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and BBC among other places.

Maaza Mengiste is a professor of creative writing at Wesleyan University in the United States and the curator of Project 3541, an archive of photography from the Italo-Ehiopian War.

More from and about Maaza Mengiste: Ethiopia’s Long War(The London Review Of Books) • “Writing About The Forgotten Black Women Of The Italo-Ethiopian War(LitHub) • “Vanishing Virgil” and “The Madonna Of The Sea(Granta) • “Sudden Flowers(The New Yorker) • “Fiction Tells A Truth That History Cannot(Guernica) • “This Is What The Journey Does(The New York Review Of Books) • “Maaza Mengiste: Q&A(The Booker Prizes) • “How Can Africa Reclaim Its Stories(Al Jazeera) • “Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King(CUNY) • “The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste: A Discussion(Georgetown University’s College Of Arts & Sciences) • “Maaza Mengiste Sings A Modern Song Of War(The New York Times) • “The Detective Work Behind A War Novel(The New York Times) • “The Language Of War Is Always Masculine(The Guardian)

Author image: Nina Subin