Friday, January 31, 2020

Ten top books about the human cost of war

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of a new book, The Shadow King, called “a brilliant novel … compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the ten best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications.

At the Guardian, Mengiste tagged ten titles that provided her "with a vocabulary to conceive anew what it means to be a soldier, to be a woman, to be in conflict with a force greater than oneself." One book on the list:
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

Set near the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war in 2001, Forna’s gripping novel examines its aftermath in the lives of her characters. The novel opens with a dying man telling a story about a past love, before the narrative branches into other voices counting the many ways that violence devastates a human being. Forna asks us to look at her characters and see not deadened beings but people who, in spite of their losses, insist on the possibilities of a new existence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue