Ethiopia | 2010
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. A 2010-11 Fulbright Scholar and recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she was named “New Literary Idol” by New York Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Ninth Letter, and 42opus, has been translated and published into German and Romanian for Lettre International, and can be found in the Seal Press anthology Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time. Her first novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was published in 2010 and is a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. A recipient of fellowships from the Prague Summer Program, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo and the Emily Harvey Foundation, she currently lives in New York.
I came to Santa Maddalena having beaten Iceland’s volcanic ash, but I couldn’t avoid the torrential rain that would not stop until nearly the end of my residency. It didn’t matter, though. Not the thunder, the snap of wind on branches or the lonely caws of drenched birds and whatever other animals I didn’t care to imagine. It was magical to write in the office once used by Grisha, to glance up and see a familiar painting from Ethiopia, to look through the large windows at the endless hills and trees and then back at the computer and realize I had a gift here, I had time. What Beatrice also offered to me, with a generosity of spirit that I can never repay, is her stories and her memories. I wrote at Santa Maddalena with an intensity and focus I never had before and this has made all the writing days that have followed even better.