Title: The Shadow King
Author: Maaza Mengistu
What it’s about: Amazon synopsis:
A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.
With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilize his strongest men before the Italians invade. His initial kindness to Hirut shifts into a flinty cruelty when she resists his advances, and Hirut finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and overwhelming rage. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s technologically advanced army prepares for an easy victory. Hundreds of thousands of Italians―Jewish photographer Ettore among them―march on Ethiopia seeking adventure.
What follows is a gorgeously crafted and un-putdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.
When I got the book: August 2020
How I acquired the book: Birthday gift vouchers
Why I want to read it: During my “Read more African authors” period. Plus the many rave reviews.
Lisa, at Book Shelf Fantasies – https://bookshelffantasies.com/2022/01/ – hosts a weekly Wednesday feature called Shelf Control, which prompted me to write this post. Thanks for the wake-up call, Lisa – much needed.