EXCLUSIVE: Atlas Entertainment has acquired rights to Maaza Mengiste’s historical novel The Shadow King. Set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King revolves around the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who’ve been left out of the historical record.
Producing at Atlas are Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Stephanie Haymes-Roven and Elise Swift.
Published on September 24 by W.W. Norton & Company, The Shadow King is set in 1935. 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.
“Maaza Mengiste has written a brilliantly crafted character study in an epic, sprawling, cinematic time and place,” Roven and Suckle said. “She 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.”
Said the author: “I am thrilled and excited to be working with the Atlas team. I was so impressed with their vision and how deeply they connected with and understood my work. It is a dream come true for my novel to be brought to the screen.“
Mengiste is a novelist and essayist who previously wrote Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, and has written for the New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, the New York Times, Rolling Stone and BBC. She also was a writer on the documentary projects Girl Rising and The Invisible City: Kauma. Mengiste is repped by Janklow & Nesbit’s Lynn Nesbit, and Paradigm.
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