Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste’s third novel is on the way to a bookstore near you! The book is titled A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths and was sold to Doubleday Publishing. There is not a set date for release but we are so excited to dig into this new book.
Maaza Mengiste is a novelist, essayist, and photographer. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was named of one of the 10 best contemporary African books by the Guardian in 2012. Her second novel, The Shadow King, was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and was named best book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, Elle, Time, and more. She has won a wide variety of notable awards including a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Creative Capital Award.
A Brief Portrait of Small Deaths is set between World War I and World War II in Berlin. The story centers on a the life of a German artist and Afro-German woman who models for him and other German painters. The novel is a blend of nonfiction and fiction as we learn more about how the woman was coerced into cooperating with the Nazis leading up to World War II. The novel blends archival research and historical documents, with the fictional narrative—told from the perspectives of both central characters. For those who enjoyed The Shadow King, you can see similar inspirations and connections. Both texts interrogate the role of African women in the history of European wars very intentionally.
Check out this clip from her presentation at the 2019 Creative Capital Artist Retreat about the connections between art and history that inspired the upcoming title.
Stay tuned for more details as we await this upcoming title!