The Wife's Tale

A nonfiction book by Aida Edemariam.

Aida Edemariam

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was 10 years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over her lifetime, 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, of both a life and 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 the 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 many layered, often mischaracterized country. (From Knopf Canada)

The Wife's Tale was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Interviews with Aida Edemariam

Featured VideoThe writer and Guardian journalist on telling the story of her grandmother's life, and of Ethiopia in the 20th century, in her book "The Wife's Tale: A Personal History."