The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste focuses on the bloody Italian invasion of Ethiopia. A realistic depiction of war, the novel includes scenes of brutal violence against men, women, and children—soldiers and civilians. One character specifically, Kidane, is personally forced to grapple with the horrors and consequences of the war.
Although most of the characters in Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King come from the same region in Ethiopia, they have significantly different backgrounds in terms of identity and position in the social hierarchy. The character Aster’s experiences in The Shadow King highlight complex and sometimes conflicting power dynamics surrounding gender and class in mid-twentieth century Ethiopia.
Our Lit Circle has been reading and discussing The Shadow King in class for the last month. We’ve had the opportunity to become comfortable with the material through student-driven inquiry: each of us choosing our own theme or topic to focus on. In this podcast our group members interviewed each other about the subjects we’ve been focusing on, specifically the complex, intersecting themes of war, violence, class and gender. Enjoy our podcast and feel free to comment and share your feedback.