Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste is one of eight writers to receive the 2020 Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Each year, the Academy awards “literature prizes, totaling $350,000, to honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry.”
Mengiste was recognized alongside Viet Thanh Nguyen, Megan McDowell, Sandra Lim, Wayne Koestenbaum, Jeremy O. Harris, Joel Harrington, and Marie Arana for “exceptional accomplishment in any genre.”
On her Twitter page last week, Mengiste expressed her joy at being honored and “a heartfelt congrats to the other writers.”
Holding on to all good news that I can: I’m overjoyed & honored to announce I’ve been awarded a 2020 Literature Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for “exceptional accomplishment in any genre”. A heartfelt congrats to the other writers. https://t.co/t6fofJXI4T pic.twitter.com/5v9aS9WZBC
— Maaza Mengiste (@MaazaMengiste) March 12, 2020
Maaza Mengiste arrived on the literary scene in 2010 with her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, identified by The Guardian as one of the “10 Best Contemporary African Books” in 2012. Since then, she has become celebrated for her representation of human stories in the face of war, exile, and migration.
Mengiste’s most recent novel, The Shadow King, was listed on TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019 and a Finalist for the 2019 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction.
The rights have since been acquired by Atlas Entertainment for film adaptation. Mengiste is also the editor of the forthcoming collection, Addis Ababa Noir, featured in Brittle Paper last August and scheduled to release in August 2020.