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Beneath the Lion's Gaze

A Novel

Maaza Mengiste (Author, Queens College)

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"An important novel, rich in compassion for its anguished characters." —The New York Times Book Review

This memorable, heartbreaking story opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Yonas kneels in his mother’s prayer room, pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family and country. His father, Hailu, a prominent doctor, has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state-sanctioned torture to die. And Dawit, Hailu’s youngest son, has joined an underground resistance movement—a choice that will lead to more upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia.

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells a gripping story of family, of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction. It is a story about the lengths human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution. Emotionally gripping, poetic, and indelibly tragic, Beneath The Lion’s Gaze is a transcendent and powerful debut.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33888-1
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 320 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide excluding Canada and the British Commonwealth.

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  1. Book CoverBeneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel


Endorsements & Reviews

“An extraordinary novel, which assembles a dauntingly broad cast of characters and, through them, tells stories that nobody can want to hear, in such a way that we cannot stop listening.” — Claire Messud, Bookforum

“Revolutionary Ethiopia in the seventies is the searing backdrop for Maaza Mengiste's incandescent debut…the acutely observed story of a family—a prominent doctor and his sons, one moderate, one mutinous—undone by war.” — Vogue

“The real marvel of this tender novel is its coiled plotting, in which coincidence manages to evoke the colossal emotional toll of the revolution.” — The New Yorker

“Mengiste gracefully builds the story to a heart-pumping conclusion…Even with its share of tragedy, this is an absorbing drama…enhanced by the author's spare, spectacular prose.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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