Ethiopia would lay proud claim to the 36 year-old award-winning novelist and freelance journalist, Dinaw Mengetsu. The author of three novels, he has written for Rolling Stone on the war in Darfur, and for Jane Magazine on the conflict in northern Uganda.
Resident in the United States, Dinaw graduated in 2000 from Georgetown University and earned an M.F.A. in 2005 from Columbia University.
His debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears , first published in 2007, “tells the story of Sepha Stephanos, who fled the warfare of the Ethiopian Revolution seventeen years before and immigrated to the United States.”
The novel was subsequently published in the United Kingdom as Children of the Revolution and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Dinaw’s second novel was published in 2010 to even more acclaim and he was consequently selected by the New Yorker as one of its ’20 under 40’ writers of 2010.
His latest novel published in 2014 was described thus by The New York Times, “…Good as they were, those books [his previous novels] now look like warm-up acts. For with “All Our Names,” he has grounded his search in a story so straightforward but at the same time so mysterious that you can’t turn the pages fast enough, and when you’re done, your first impulse is to go back to the beginning and start over.”
In 2014, out of several African Authors, Dinaw was chosen for the Hay Festival’s Africa39 project as one of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with the potential and the talent to define the trends of the region.
Dinaw was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 2012 and served as the Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University. He was also the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation in 2007. He was a nominee for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’s, Granta, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.
“Dinaw Mengestu is a young writer whose novels and nonfiction pieces open a window into the little-explored world of the African diaspora in America. He composes tales distilled from the experience of immigrants whose memories are permanently seared by escape from violence in their homelands.” www.macfound.org
“There are those who wake up each morning to conquer the day, and then there are those of us who wake up only because we have to. We live in the shadow of every neighborhood. We own little corner stores, live in run-down apartments that get too little light, and walk the same streets day after day. We spend our afternoons gazing lazily out of windows. Somnambulists, all of us. Someone else said it better: we wake to sleep and sleep to wake.”
― Dinaw Mengestu, Children of the Revolution
Which are you?