Maaza Mengiste

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Maaza Mengiste
Mengiste, BookExpo 2019
Mengiste, BookExpo 2019
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
GenreFiction, non-fiction
Notable worksBeneath the Lion's Gaze

Maaza Mengiste (born 1974) is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the 2010 novel Beneath the Lion's Gaze.

Early life[edit]

Mengiste was born in 1974 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but left at the age of four when her family fled the Ethiopian Revolution. She spent the rest of her childhood in Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States.[1] She later studied in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar and earned an MFA degree in creative writing from New York University.


Mengiste has published fiction and nonfiction dealing with migration, the Ethiopian revolution, and the plight of sub-Saharan immigrants arriving in Europe. Her debut novel Beneath the Lion's Gaze - the story of a family struggling to survive the tumultuous and bloody years of the Ethiopian Revolution - was named one of the 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian and translated into French, Spanish,[2] Portuguese,[3] German, Italian, Dutch, and Swedish.[4] Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Granta, Lettre Internationale, Enkare Review, Callaloo, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She was runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize,[5] and a finalist for a Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize,[6] an NAACP Image Award, and an Indies Choice Book of the Year Award in Adult Debut. In 2013 she was World Literature Today’s Puterbaugh Fellow. She counts among her influences E. L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Edith Wharton.[7]

Mengiste has also been involved in human rights work. She serves on the advisory board of Warscapes, an independent online magazine that highlights current conflicts across the world, and is affiliated with the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights.[8] Mengiste also serves on the Board of Directors for Words without Borders.[9]

Alongside Edwidge Danticat and Mona Eltahawy, Mengiste contributed a section to Richard E. Robbins's 2013 documentary film Girl Rising on girl's education around the world for 10x10 Films, with narration by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Alicia Keys, and Cate Blanchett.

Mengiste teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Queens College, City University of New York,[10] and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.[11]

Awards, honors, and nominations[edit]





  1. ^ Daniel Musiitwa, "Maaza Mengiste Talks About Her Writing and the Power of Individual Stories",, November 1, 2011.
  2. ^ Bajo La Mirada del Leon. La Mirada Salvaje. Trans. Anna Styczńiska, 2015.
  3. ^ Sob o Olhar do Leão. Editora Record. Trans. Flávia Rössler, 2011
  4. ^ Allfrey, Ellah Wakatama (2012-08-25). "The 10 best contemporary African books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  5. ^ LLC, D. Verne Morland, Digital Stationery International,. "Dayton Literary Peace Prize - 2011 Award Finalists". Retrieved 2017-02-03.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. ^ "2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel page on the Center for Fiction Website". Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  7. ^ Bady, Aaron, "Interview: Maaza Mengiste", Post45, 2014-10-17.
  8. ^ "Advisory Board", Warscapes.
  9. ^ "Board of Directors", Words without Borders, 2019-2-1
  10. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  11. ^ "Maaza Mengiste - Lewis Center for the Arts". Archived from the original on April 9, 2013. Retrieved Jun 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "Vintage Addis Ababa: Recollections of everyday people: Philipp Schütz, Wongel Abebe, Nafkot Gebeyehu, Wongel Abebe; Philipp Schütz, Maaza Mengiste: 9789994473250: Books". Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  13. ^ "Photography book". Tumblr. Retrieved Jun 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "ABRAMS Books - The Art of Books Since 1949". ABRAMS - The Art of Books Since 1949. Retrieved Jun 4, 2019.

General references[edit]

External links[edit]