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The Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam

October 6, 2017

The extraordinary story of an indomitable 95-year-old woman – and of the most extraordinary century in Ethiopia’s history.


A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. before she was ten years old, Yètèmegn was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over the next century her world would change beyond recognition. She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Hailè 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 a country. In spare, vivid prose, steeped in Yètèmegn distinctive voice and point of view, Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother’s stories: of a childhood spent in a society untouched by the outside world for centuries, of devastating and repeated waves of invasion, of her husband’s wrongful imprisonment for treason – all of it played out against the unchanging rhythms of the natural world and an ancient cycle of religious festivals.

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 takes us deep into the landscape and culture of this ancient, many-layered, often mischaracterised country, and into the heart of one indomitable woman.


Published 22nd February 2018  | Hardback | 9780007459605 | RRP £16.99

If you’re a bookseller in the UK or Ireland and you’d like an advance reading copy of The Wife’s Tale, please send your request, along with your name and bookshop address, to Ammara at independentthinking@harpercollins.co.uk.

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