Friday 2 July 2010

Ethiopian Tale

Finished June 18
Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste
We follow the family of Hailu and Selam in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia beginning in 1974 with the revolution. Hailu is a doctor and Selam is dying in the hospital. Their oldest son Yonas takes refuge in prayer, pleading for an end to the violence. Yonas' wife Sara feels herself to be abandoned by God after the loss of their parents and earlier pregnancies, even as she prays for her daughter's life to be spared. Hailu's younger son Dawit has joined an underground student resistance movement, and finds himself pushing to do more.
The family dynamics play a large role in the plot, as does the revolution and resistance in Ethiopia. When Hailu makes a decision to spare a prisoner further torture, he is ordered to report to jail and the fight for freedom becomes more personal. As the family becomes more involved in the political situation, we see the desperation and hidden depths of the characters we have come to care about.
Told from multiple viewpoints, this story is an emotional and powerful one.

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