The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Festival - Aida Edemariam - The Wife's Tale

City of Literature at Norfolk & Norwich Festival Festival

Friday 24th May 2019

10.30 - 11.30am The Adnams Spiegeltent, Chapelfield Gardens, Coburg Street, Norwich NR2 1RU - Tickets £8 / £10

Universal Women – with Aida Edemariam and Sinéad Gleeson

Guardian journalist Aida Edemariam and award-winning writer Sinéad Gleeson present two intimate portrayals of 'ordinary' women who find boldness and bravery within the constraints of their bodies, time and place. Examining art, memory, gender, grief, and our ways of seeing, their writing is both deeply personal and universal in its resonance.


Aida Edemariam's The Wife's Tale is the extraordinary story of an indomitable 95-year-old woman – and of the most extraordinary century in Ethiopia’s history. A new Wild Swans.

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over the next century her world changed beyond recognition. She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She endured all these things alongside parenthood, widowhood and the death of children.

The Wife's Tale is an intimate memoir, both of a life and of a country. In prose steeped in Yetemegnu's distinctive voice and point of view, Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother's stories of a childhood surrounded by proud priests and soldiers, of her husband's imprisonment, of her fight for justice all of it played out against an ancient cycle of festivals and the rhythms of the seasons. She introduces us to a rich cast of characters emperors and empresses, scholars and nuns, Marxist revolutionaries and wartime double agents. And through these encounters she takes us deep into the landscape and culture of this many-layered, often mis-characterised country and the heart of one indomitable woman.


In Constellations: Reflections from Life, Sinéad Gleeson provides an intimate book of essays that chart the experiences that have made her the woman and the writer she is today.

How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? How do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In these powerful and daring essays Sinéad does that very thing. All of life is within these pages, from birth to first love, pregnancy to motherhood, terrifying sickness, old age and loss to death itself. Throughout this wide-ranging collection she also turns her restless eye outwards delving into work, art and our very ways of seeing. In the tradition of some of our finest life writers, and yet still in her own spirited, generous voice, Sinéad takes us on a journey that is both uniquely personal and yet universal in its resonance. Here is the fierce joy and pain of being alive.


Two forthright writers talk about love, loss, survival and resilience.


Tickets are available from the Norwich and Norfolk Festival Box Office.



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