Books by Ethiopian Writers That Travelers to Ethiopia May Read

Book covers for Maaza Mengiste's 'Beneath the Lion's Gaze,' Asfa-Wossen Asserate's 'The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie,' Nega Mezlekia's 'Notes Form the Hyena's Belly' and Abraham Verghese’s 'Cutting for Stone.' (Images: Amazon.com)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

October 30th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – In their travel section published today The New York Times highlights three books for first-time visitors to read before going to Ethiopia so they may acquaint themselves with the history and culture of the country.

We liked the choice of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu. As the Times notes “In his first novel, Mengestu evokes two cities: Washington, D.C., where the protagonist Sepha Stephanos currently lives in exile, and Addis Ababa, the city where he was born. His father had been murdered during Ethiopia’s Red Terror, and Sepha was trying to make a life in the United States. Seventeen years later, he still did not feel settled. Our reviewer wrote that Mengestu is particularly adept at capturing conversations between immigrants: “He gets, pitch perfect, the warmly abrasive wit of the violently displaced and their need to keep alive some textured memories — even memories that wound — amid America’s demanding amnesia.”

Here are additional books by Ethiopian writers that travelers to Ethiopia may also find educational:

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

We recommend Maaza Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze that depicts Ethiopia in the 1970s, when the country was undergoing a political revolution. The military had just deposed an archaic monarchy system with a promise of peaceful change. But what followed Emperor Haile Selassie’s removal was anything but peaceful. The country would soon plunge into unimaginable violence. (Tadias Q & A with Maaza Mengiste)

Notes Form the Hyena’s Belly

Also worth checking out is the highly acclaimed work by Ethiopian author Nega Mezlekia, Notes From the Hyena’s Belly, which is the winner of the Governor General’s Award and a Library Journal Best Book of 2001. “Part autobiography and part social history, Notes from the Hyena’s Belly offers an unforgettable portrait of Ethiopia, and of Africa, during the 1970s and ’80s, an era of civil war and widespread famine.”

Cutting for Stone

Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone is “an epic novel about a young man’s coming of age in Ethiopia and America. From fascinating social and political portraits of Ethiopia in upheaval, Cutting for Stone zooms into a territory where few have gone before: the drama of the operating theater and the mysteries inside the human body. There can be no doubt that this novel is the work of a seasoned writer who has led many lives in many places.” (Tadias review of Verghese’s ‘Cutting for Stone’ and Tadias Interview with Dr. Abraham Verghese)

King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

Asfa-Wossen Asserate’s recent book provides an authoritative, insider’s perspective and a refreshingly balanced look at this fascinating international figure who was the global face of Ethiopia for most of the 20th century. It helps that the author is Haile Selassie’s grandnephew. (Tadias Review: New Book on Triumph & Tragedy of Ethiopia’s Last Emperor Haile Selassie).


There are many more wonderful books on Ethiopia at tsehaipublishers.com.

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