Maaza Mengiste

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Maaza Mengiste, Frankfurt Literaturhaus, 2013

Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze.

Early life[edit]

Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and lived in Nigeria and Kenya before settling in the United States.[1]


Mengiste's debut novel Beneath the Lion's Gaze was named one of the 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian.[2] Mengiste is a Fulbright Scholar and World Literature Today’s 2013 Puterbaugh Fellow. Among other places, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Lettre Internationale, Granta, Callaloo, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She was runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize,[3] and a finalist for a Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize,[4] an NAACP Image Award, and an Indies Choice Book of the Year Award in Adult Debut. Mengiste writes fiction and nonfiction dealing with migration, the Ethiopian revolution, and the plight of sub-Saharan immigrants arriving in Europe. She has completed a documentary project, GIRL RISING, with 10x10 Films, that focuses on girls’ education globally and features the voices of several noted actors, including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, and Cate Blanchett.

Mengiste also has an interest in ways that the arts can promote human rights. She serves on the advisory board of Warscapes, an independent online magazine that provides a lens into current conflicts across the world. She is also on the advisory board for the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, which provides assistance to unaccompanied and separated immigrant, migrant, and refugee children who are in the United States, through a variety of programs and services.

Maaza Mengiste has a MFA degree in creative writing from New York University. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Queens College of the City University of New York[5] and a Lecturer of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.[6]


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