The Shadow King: Maaza Mengiste with Marlon James

Wed. Sep 25, 2019 at 6:30pm EDT
All Ages
All Ages
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Event Description

The 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia, imagined through through the eyes of the extraordinary women who worked to save their country from fascism. 

Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze, returns to another piece of Ethiopian history, this time the 1935 Italian invasion of her native country. Though she grew up hearing her grandfather’s male-centric stories of the war, Mengiste chose a multiplicity of perspectives—women and men, poor and rich, powerless and powerful—to imagine the conflict from all sides. 

In a preface, Mengiste describes how her great-grandmother was passed over to receive the gun that would represent her family in battle. Her father gave it to her husband instead, at which point the great-grandmother sued to get it back. When she won the case, she enlisted and went to war—like so many other women, whose stories have been left out of the historical record. In The Shadow King Mengiste restores their narrative by recounting the many roles that women play during wartime: caregivers, as well as advisers, spies, and warriors. 

Booker Prize–winning novelist Marlon James joins Mengiste for a conversation about reimagining history and the event that reshaped her nation. 

For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form one hour before the program.

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at

For all other inquiries, please contact

ASL interpretation and real-time (CART) captioning available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing

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Venue Details
Map of Venue Location.
Celeste Auditorium at South Court (1st Floor) The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10016