An epic tale of a father and two sons, of betrayals and loyalties, of a family unraveling in the wake of Ethiopia's revolution.
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 before. 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.
"With...a compassionate imagination that transforms everything it touches on, Maaza Mengiste delivers an important story." ---Chris Albani, author of Graceland, a Today Show pick
"What a beautiful book! After a few chapters I felt I was a member of this family, a citizen of Ethiopia. Maaza Mengiste is talented and bold and fresh." ---Uwem Akpan, author of Say You're One of Them, an Oprah Book Club selection
"This book is stunning." ---Library Journal
"The brutal 1970s civil war in Ethiopia is the dramatic setting in this first novel, told from searing personal viewpoints that humanize the politics from many sides and without slick messages." ---Booklist
"Striking.... Mengiste is as adept at crafting emotionally delicate moments as she is deft at portraying the tense and grim historical material." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"Mengiste tells an unforgettable tale, and one that needed to be told." ---The Denver Post
"Intelligent and moving…provides a window into a complex and ancient country." ---The Christian Science Monitor
"An important novel, rich in compassion for its anguished characters." ---The New York Times
"Crossley's performance enhances the novel's blend of elegance and violence, a combination that brings this tragic historic event alive in a way that headlines and history books cannot." ---AudioFile
"An arresting, powerful novel that works on both personal and political levels." ---Kirkus
"A novel both tender and brutal, fearless, it is accomplished beyond a first book." ---Dagoberto Gilb, author of the PEN/Hemingway Award winner The Magic of Blood