Cape Town — Atlas Entertainment, an American film financing and production company, has acquired the rights to Ethiopian-American Maaza Mengiste's historical novel The Shadow King and plans to bring it to the big screen.
According to Deadline, the novel casts a spotlight on the women soldiers who have been left out of the historical record during World War II.
The gripping novel is set during Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.
"Mussolini's army invades Ethiopia and moves towards an easy victory. Aster, the wife of a commander in Haile Selassie's overwhelmed army, and her household servant Hirut long to do more than only care for the wounded and bury the dead. Together, they offer a plan to maintain morale among Ethiopians, eventually becoming warriors and inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians, reports Deadline.
The Shadow King was published on September 24 by W.W. Norton & Company. According to the publisher, "in incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line during Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war."
The movie will be produced by Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Stephanie Haymes-Roven and Elise Swift. Roven and Suckle said that "Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters and offers the reader an indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman against the backdrop of war. It's a compelling storytelling that Atlas is thrilled to bring to the screen."
Maaza Mengiste couldn't hide her excitement and took to Twitter to share the news.
@MaazaMengiste - OMG. I'm thrilled. Holy shit & here we go. #TheShadowKing, coming soon to a theater near you. #Ethiopia #WWII #WomenWarriors
The novel has received high reviews by website critics, commentators, and columnists alike. The Shadow King has been described as a "brilliant novel, lyrically lifting history towards myth on women's role during wartime."
Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. Her debut novel, the award-winning Beneath the Lion's Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books. It has been translated into several languages.