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Since its publication on September 24, 2019, Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King has been making waves. It was featured on the front page of the October 13, 2019, issue of The New York Times Book Review and notably mentioned in the Los Angeles Review of Books and The New Yorker. The latest sign of The Shadow King‘s success, however, is the news that rights to the book have been acquired by Atlas Entertainment, a film financing and production company responsible for blockbusters such as Wonder Woman (2016) and Justice League (2017).

The acquisition was announced in an October 21, 2019 Deadline article. Mengiste shared the news via her social media platforms:


In the Deadline article, Academy Award nominated Atlas Entertainment producers Charles Roven and Richard Suckle said of Mengiste’s book:

Maaza Mengiste has written a brilliantly crafted character study in an epic, sprawling, cinematic time and place […] She breathes life into complicated characters and offers the reader an indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman against the backdrop of war. It’s a compelling storytelling that Atlas is thrilled to bring to the screen.

The film adaptation of The Shadow King would join the books of other African authors to have been adapted into motion picture such as Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation (2005; film released in 2015) and Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun  (2006; film released in 2013).

Congratulations Maaza Mengiste: we can’t wait for the moment when The Shadow King hits the big screen!

For Brittle Paper Readers’ ideas on other books by African authors that should be made into film, click here.

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  1. Morning Bites: Mira Ptacin Interviewed, Maaza Mengiste, Nommo Award Winners, John Freeman Gill on Brooklyn History, and More – Vol. 1 Brooklyn - October 28, 2019

    […] Maaza Mengiste’s novel The Shadow King has been optioned for the big screen. […]

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