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[Reading Beneath the Lion's Gaze] Epub ✓ Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste ✓ 2 Read

Of family of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction It is a story about the lengths human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution Emotionally gripping poetic and indelibly tragic Beneath The Lion’s Gaze is a transcendent and powerful debut. First the cover is not doing this book any favors I assumed it was a memoir probably of a child soldier or somethingEven once I realized this was a novel I didn t have high expectations for it I was expecting another earnest but poorly written book published on the strength of covering awful events in a time and place most Americans know little about As it turns out I did like the book than expectedBeneath the Lion s Gaze is set in 1970 s Ethiopia a time of enormous upheaval following a devastating famine and governmental inaction student protests led to a revolution overthrowing the hereditary monarch The revolution was uickly co opted by the military which claiming to set up a communist government ushered in a period of terror and repression This book covers about four years and mostly follows one extended family a father two adult sons daughter in law and granddaughter along with some of their friends and neighbors The married son just wants peace while the single one becomes a high profile dissident meanwhile their father a doctor faces a terrible dilemma when the military demands that he treat a torture victimThe story is interesting and the short chapters move it along relatively uickly If you ve read other books about life under oppressive regimes you know what to expect here there are some ugly scenes including violence against children But Mengiste balances the bloody parts with scenes dealing with family relations and everyday life the book never feels like a simple news report It is however far from a light read the characters attempts to do good consistently make things worse and there s little hope in the inconclusive finishNeither the characterization nor the writing style is anything to write home about but even so I rather liked the book The author s observations and imagery ring true and the plot kept my interest If the characters often seem like representatives of various opinions and experiences than actual people it s still nice to have a range of them represented from dissidents to soldiers to collaborators Even the less sympathetic characters are believable and treated fairlyAs for the historical aspect the book certainly piued my interest in Ethiopia I might have liked a in depth look at events but can t complain with the book s focusing primarily on the family There s a decent sense of place with some good descriptions of the countryOverall this isn t among the best civilians in wartime books I ve read but nor is it among the worst A decent choice if you re interested in Ethiopia African fiction generally or civilian life during revolutions and military dictatorships

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Beneath the Lion's Gaze

An epic tale of a father and two sons of betrayals and loyalties of a family unraveling in the wake of Ethiopia’s revolution This memorable heartbreaking story opens in Addis Ababa Ethiopia 1974 on the eve of a revolution Yonas kneels in his mother’s prayer room pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family a. Let s be real here a lot of what we Westerners know of Ethiopia is based on those late night aid commercials soliciting support for starving children with distended bellies and flies swarming their faces This is incredibly problematic Maaza Mengiste s Beneath The Lion s Gaze flies in the face of that monolithic stock image of the country and gives a richly drawn description of Ethiopian life before the 1974 revolution that many people know little or nothing aboutThis is the story of a family set against the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and is easily one of most gripping books I ve read in a very long time It looks baldly at the beauty of Ethiopian culture a strongly family community and faith centered way of life Ethiopian history Ethiopia proudly off Italian forces and was the only African nation not colonized by Europeans and the political machinations that tore at the fabric of that society Main characters include Hailu a medical doctor and the father and head of the household Selam his ailing wife Yonas their eldest son Dawit the younger rebellious son and Sara Yonas s wife There are a number of ancillary characters that weave in and out of the narrative to tell a story that is about family love war and convictionsFor me this novel renewed my interest in Ethiopian history As a black American I already had some idea of Ethiopia s rich contribution to black history and knew of Haile Selassie s importance to Rastafarianism but this book made me think about the ramifications of deifying political leaders black or otherwise The torturedeath scenes in the book were hard to bear because you realize how both fragile and resilient human life can be This book is definitely worth the read

Review Beneath the Lion's Gaze

Nd country His father Hailu a prominent doctor has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state sanctioned torture to die And Dawit Hailu’s youngest son has joined an underground resistance movement a choice that will lead to upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells a gripping story. This book has a tone and the best word I have for it is sombre I felt Mengiste s Ethiopia to be grand dignified ancient steeped in its rich mythopoesis The graceful prose seems to move glacially from idea to idea image to image never becoming fevered or fragmenting as its subjects do The segments from the viewpoint of Haile Selassie seem entirely appropriate in this mood What I m saying might sound like distance the vertical perspective of a strategy game but the texture here is also intimate full of physicality and feeling If this book hadn t been so agonisingly difficult to read because of the graphic scenes of torture I would be giving it 5 starsEven before things start to go really horribly wrong as the revolution progresses life is pretty grim for expert surgeon Hailu whose wife is severely ill in hospital and whose younger son s involvement with student activism worries him or less constantly As if things needed to get worse the older son Yonas young daughter suddenly becomes critically ill too The girl s mother Sara distraught shuts out those around her and bargains with an apparently cruel and blood hungry god to save her daughter crawling around the church on broken glass creating a red ring that Mengiste uses as a cheesy filmic scene transition to the image of a cigarette perhaps to suggest the furnace of violence that will enclose the cityThis reminded me why I ve never got on with Christianity I refuse to be forced into an abusive relationship with this sadistic jerk My favourite character in the book Emama Seble a witchwise woman of sorts is indignant when she sees Sara s self inflicted injuries what god would want this I have no prior knowledge of either Ethiopian Orthodox or Coptic beliefs or practices but apart from the obsession with hair shirt style weird self sacrifice the role of religion in people s lives here is written attractively with thoughtful devotion both mutual and personal providing social glue and contemplative sanctuary in a way that reminded me of novels set in Muslim communities Emama Seble s place in the community shows that religion is not used against othersI have described Emama Seble as a witch but Mengiste does not do so She wears black long after the prescribed period of mourning for her husband lives alone and is known or rumoured to have many sexual partners Her healing techniues as far as we see are extremely simple and practical she uses relaxing aromatherapy and steam massage and a bit of psychology The community fears her and believes so strongly in her power they bring her the corpse of a child to resurrect but they do not attempt to persecute her Hailu s politically active younger son Dawit is perhaps the main narrative centre compellingly written and complex despite his taciturn temperament The young man s uncompromising idealism is written in the toughness of his face both Hailu and Yonas remember being fired with political fervour in their youths but they have become pragmatic and mellow Whether Dawit s native temperament is different or whether his hard fighting spirit is conditioned by the harsher times his mother Selam has always known he is the strongest His character develops significantly through the novel and he gains self knowledge as he witnesses and judges the behaviour of others but he retains some naivity to the end One of the most disturbing moments of the story is when Solomon a resistance fighter whom Dawit is following orders from hints that the group they belong to also uses torture Just as Dawit s personality is still maturing the book ends before the story it is tellingThere are interludes in Selam s consciousness as well as Selassie s Selam s interjections have a mystical uality mapping a poetic imaginary that counterpoints the increasingly unbearable hallucinatory horror of reality holding out the hope of escape or an end to the nightmare I would have loved background imaginary rooted in this land I will have to read books from the regionThe central family here belong to a relatively privileged class but most of the peripheral characters do not I was slightly confused that one of the housekeepers Sofia is so poor she sent her children out to work in the street instead of to school I thought this reflected pretty poorly on Hailu family but I guess it would be considered normal and safe if it weren t for the eruption of violence Nonetheless this handling of child solider recruitment seemed uncharacteristically clumsy to me One intriguing and enjoyable character is the kiosk owner Melaku who is a friend and former lover of Emama Seble Occasionally his worldly wisdom is conferred upon Dawit He asks didn t Marx enjoy himself which reminded me of the crucial uestion in The Name of the Rose of whether Christ laughed perhaps it is eually important I am currently reading Almanac of the Dead in which Native American resistance fighter Angelita La Escapia gives a life changingly brilliant lecture on Marx that I may have to copy out and blog by itself This new reading is causing me to get and food for thought out of Melaku s seemingly throwaway comment


10 thoughts on “Beneath the Lion's Gaze

  1. says:

    This novel is set in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa in the late 1970’s It’s the last days of Christian Emperor Haile Selassie who su

  2. says:

    Let’s be real here – a lot of what we Westerners know of Ethiopia is based on those late night aid commercials soliciting support for starving children with distended bellies and flies swarming their faces This is incredibly problematic Maaza Mengiste’s “Beneath The Lion’s Gaze” flies in the face of that monol

  3. says:

    Ethiopia 1974 The country is on the cusp of a revolution that will overthrow the monarchy and see the Derg take power a communist military group The successive years saw hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians kille

  4. says:

    This book has a tone and the best word I have for it is sombre I felt Mengiste's Ethiopia to be grand dignified ancient steeped in its rich m

  5. says:

    I had this book for a really long time but never got round to reading it Now that I'm done I'm kinda wondering why it took me so long The book is about the Ethiopian revolution as seen through the eyes of a fictional family in the time period The author goes to great lengths to get the reader to understand what each of the characters is goin

  6. says:

    Ethiopian Emperor Selassie's rule with all its flaws injustices and decadence was smashed into pieces by a fanatical new regime in the 1970s providing the setting for Maaza Mengiste's debut At the center of the story is a surgeon Hailu and his two sons Yonas a reflective realist and Dawit an impulsive idealist In ‘Beneath The Lion’s Ga

  7. says:

    I loved the characters and the setting was highly compelling But I needed plot I really really needed of a plot You've got to have something happen and that has to be shown as it's happening Too many time whenever there was movement in the plot it was shown as FLASHBACK 8 | No

  8. says:

    First the cover is not doing this book any favors I assumed it was a memoir probably of a child soldier or somethingEven once I realized this was a novel I didn’t have high expectations for it I was expecting another earnest but poorly written book published on the strength of covering awful events in a time and place most Americans know little about As it turns out I did like the book than expectedBeneath the Lion’s Gaze is

  9. says:

    Beneath the Lion's Gaze begins in 1974 during the last days of Emperor Haile Selassie's despotic rule of Ethiopia Told through the fates of members of a well educated family it conveys the chaos contradictions and violence

  10. says:

    Beneath the Lion's Gaze threw me right into a country and an historic era I knew little or almost nothing about but Maaza Mengiste introduces

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.