Maaza Mengiste on handedness, the cost of loyalty, and libraries as refuge

We’re so thrilled that Maaza Mengiste will join us for this year’s Opus & Olives. In preparation for the big event, we asked Maaza a few questions to help fans get to know her better. This is an #opusexclusive.

Photo credit Nina Subin

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

I’m right-handed but I was born left-handed. At some point in my early school years, I was forced to switch.

What do you want people to know about this book?

The Shadow King tells the story of Ethiopian women who fought in war, but it is also a book that questions how we define an enemy, and the costs of loyalty and obedience. This is ultimately a book that asks what part of you is worth keeping intact, despite everything.

Tell us what you love about libraries.

Libraries were my refuge when I first came to the US. I fell into those stories and watched my world transform, I could be anywhere and everywhere when I sat down at a table to read. Every book I took home became my friend, I met my heroes through stories. I learned to question things, to develop a set of ethics, to see myself in relation to a larger world of ideas; and every librarian who showed me a new book I would like or set one aside for me or let me keep a book longer than I should kept me engaged and challenged and forever eager to learn even more. I will always be grateful.

Meet Maaza and the rest of our bestselling lineup in person on October 13 at the RiverCentre in downtown Saint Paul!