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THE SHADOW KING by Maaza Mengiste – an intimate and epic piece of literature

Maaza Mengiste’s 2020 Booker Prize shortlisted novel is a beautifully ambitious and structured novel set in 1935, Ethiopia when Mousselini’s Italian troops invaded Ethiopia and as what happened at that time, women took arms and fought.

The story follows Hirut, a flawed character who works for a very problematic couple, Kidane ( a warrior working under the Emperor Haille Sellasie) and his wife Aster. The novel follows the trials and tribulations Hirut faces which is far beyond her years.

Personally, I thought it was a very complex, powerful and brilliantly researched historical fiction about events we know very little about. It’s amazingly structured and what I loved about it most was how it shifted from the intimate sphere of the household to the epic sphere of the battlefield.

A remarkable piece of literature with unforgettable characters.

The Shadow King- Maaza Mengiste Canongate publications

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