Dinaw Mengestu (born 1978) is an Ethiopian-American novelist and writer. In addition to three novels, he has written for Rolling Stone on the war in Darfur, and for Jane Magazine on the conflict in northern Uganda. His writing has also appeared in Harper's, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications. He is Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University. Since his first book was published in 2007, he has received numerous literary awards, and was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 2012.
Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His family left Ethiopia during the war when he was two years old and immigrated to the United States. He was raised in Peoria, Illinois, and graduated from Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.
Mengestu received his B.A. in English from Georgetown University, and his MFA in fiction from Columbia University.
Mengestu's début novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, was published in the United States in March 2007 by Penguin Riverhead. It tells the story of Sepha Stephanos, who fled the warfare of the Ethiopian Revolution seventeen years before and immigrated to the United States. He owns and runs a failing grocery store in Logan Circle, then a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C. that is becoming gentrified. He and two fellow African immigrants, all of them single, deal with feelings of isolation and nostalgia for home. Stephanos becomes involved with a white woman and her daughter, who move into a renovated house in the neighborhood...
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