The acclaimed author travels across Ethiopia collecting folktales in this travelogue featuring many of the fabulous stories she heard.
In 1967, at the age of 23, Elizabeth Laird set off for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, to start her first teaching job. She was introduced to Emperor Haile Selassie, made a pilgrimage across the mountains on foot to the ancient city of Lalibela, hitched a ride on an oil tanker across the Danakil Desert, and was arrested—briefly—for a murder she did not commit.
Back in Britain, Laird established herself as a major author of fiction for children and young adults, but she always wanted to return to Ethiopia. Her chance came in the late 1990s, when the British Council in Addis Ababa invited her to collect folk stories from every region of the country. Encountering ex-guerrilla fighters, camel traders, Coptic nuns and tribespeople en route, Laird has written a remarkable account of her journey interwoven with a treasure trove of stories featuring princes and maidens, snakes and lions, zombies and hyena-women.