Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The God Who Begat a Jackal

The God Who Begat a Jackal

A Novel

Nega Mezlekia




A Library Journal Best Book

Nega Mezlekia's memoir Notes from the Hyena's Belly was described in the New York Times Book Review as "the most riveting book about Ethiopia since Ryszard Kapuscinski's literary allegory The Emperor and the most distinguished African literary memoir since Soyinka's Aké appeared 20 years ago." Mezlekia now offers a first novel steeped in African folklore and teeming with the class, ethnic and religious struggles of pre-colonial Africa. In The God Who Begat a Jackal, the 17th-century feudal system, vassal uprisings, religious mythology, and the Crusades are intertwined with the love between Aster, the daughter of a feudal lord, and Gudu, the court jester and family slave. Aster and Gudu's relationship is the ultimate taboo, but supernatural elements presage a destiny more powerful than the rule of man. With Mezlekia's enchanting storytelling and ironic humor, readers glimpse African deities that have long since weathered away and the social cleavages that have endured through time.


Praise for The God Who Begat a Jackal

“In The God Who Begat a Jackal, Mezlekia takes the elements of the simplest of fairy stories--forbidden love, an heiress and a storytelling slave--and embroiders them lushly . . . The imagined world of his novel ends up as . . . fabulous in the most literal of senses.” —Michael Pye, The New York Times

The God Who Begat a Jackal is everything a novel should be. It delivers an entire world--a profound, comical, moving, and memorable one. The moral and social truths of this novel--subtly and brilliantly evoked--are reminiscent of the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Nega Mezlekia is a writer with extraordinary vision.” —Margaret Cezair-Thompson, author of The True History of Paradise

“Melzekia has done it again: Spare yet lush, The God Who Begat a Jackal recreates a world that evokes the haunted but enchanting paradise that is East Africa. His narrative voice rings so true--unique but universal, and yet authentic to a particular time and place.” —Ken Wiwa, author of In the Shadow of a Saint

“Mezlekia's debut novel, set in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in the 1700s, is the epic story of a pair of lovers caught up in a revolution. Aster is the ethereal, gifted daughter of Count Ashenafi, a nobleman who worships the ground his daughter walks on. Numerous suitors pursue her, even after she is raped by the emperor. Aster wants nothing to do with them; instead, she falls in love with Gudu, her father's court jester, who has been assigned to guard her. Gudu and Aster exchange love poems and steal quiet moments together until they are discovered by her father. Gudu manages to escape to a nearby town, and siding with men branded as heretics for their views about slaves, he starts a community of revolutionaries. Besieged by Ashenafi's men, the revolutionaries bravely hold their ground, and a war of massive proportions breaks out. Narrated by Terefi, a young friend of the lovers who observes both their courtship and the war, the novel is engaging and compelling.” —Kristine Huntley, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Nega Mezlekia

Nega Mezlekia is the author of Notes from the Hyena's Belly, winner of the Governor General's Award. He left Ethiopia in 1983 and is now an engineer living in Toronto.

Nega Mezlekia

From the Publisher


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