Dinaw Mengestu was born, in 1978, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980 he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled the communist revolution in Ethiopia two years before.
Mengestu is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, was one of the New Yorker’s "20 Under 40." He has won the Guardian First Book Award. He is the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Lannan Literary Award, and received a "5 under 35" Award from the National Book Foundation.
His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, was named a New York Times Notable Book and awarded the Guardian First Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, among numerous other honors.
Mengestu now  lives with his wife and son in Paris.
Mengestu discusses his novel,
All Our Names, at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. March 18, 2014
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Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
From acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu, a recipient of the National Book
Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award, The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 award, and a
2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, comes an unforgettable love story
about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s
America and an unflinching novel about the fragmentation of lives that
straddle countries and histories.
All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.
Elegiac, blazing with insights about the physical and emotional geographies that circumscribe our lives, All Our Names is a marvel of vision and tonal command. Writing within the grand tradition of Naipul, Greene, and Achebe, Mengestu gives us a political novel that is also a transfixing portrait of love and grace, of self-determination and the names we are given and the names we earn.
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Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (October 14, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
From the prizewinning international literary star: the searing and
powerful story of one man's search for redemption.
Dinaw Mengestu's first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, earned the young writer comparisons to Bellow, Fitzgerald, and Naipaul, and garnered ecstatic critical praise and awards around the world for its haunting depiction of the immigrant experience. Now Mengestu enriches the themes that defined his debut with a heartbreaking literary masterwork about love, family, and the power of imagination, which confirms his reputation as one of the brightest talents of his generation.
One early September afternoon, Yosef and Mariam, young Ethiopian immigrants who have spent all but their first year of marriage apart, set off on a road trip from their new home in Peoria, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee, in search of a new identity as an American couple. Soon, their son, Jonas, will be born in Illinois. Thirty years later, Yosef has died, and Jonas needs to make sense of the volatile generational and cultural ties that have forged him. How can he envision his future without knowing what has come before? Leaving behind his marriage and job in New York, Jonas sets out to retrace his mother and father's trip and weave together a family history that will take him from the war-torn Ethiopia of his parents' youth to his life in the America of today, a story—real or invented—that holds the possibility of reconciliation and redemption
Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new
start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery
store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only
companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and
longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never
have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change,
hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi,
a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial
incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.
Awards for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Include: