With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. Her new employer, Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade.
Hirut and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms. But how could she have predicted her own personal war, still to come, as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers?
The Shadow King is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, and what it means to be a woman at war.
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she was named "New Literary Idol" by New York Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Ninth Letter and 42opus, has been translated and published into German and Romanian for Lettre International, and can be found in the Seal Press anthology Homelands: Women's Journeys Across Race, Place and Time. She has received fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Yaddo. She currently lives in New York.