All Our Names: Book summary and reviews of All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

All Our Names

By Dinaw Mengestu

All Our Names
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2014,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

From 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 a novel about exile, about the loneliness and fragmentation of lives that straddle countries and histories.

All Our Names is the story of a young man who comes of age during an African revolution, drawn from the hushed halls of his university into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, and the path of revolution leads to almost certain destruction, he leaves behind his country and friends for America. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into the routines of 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 charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.

Subtle, intelligent, and quietly devastating, All Our Names is a novel about identity, about the names we are given and the names we earn. The emotional power of Mengestu's work is indelible.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review, Pick of the Week. Mengestu portrays the intersection of cultures experienced by the immigrant with unsettling perception" - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Weighted with sorrow and gravitas, another superb story by Mengestu, who is among the best novelists now at work in America." - Kirkus

"The author highlights the dense slums of Kampala with the same intensity as he does the flatness of his midwestern farm town. But Mengestu is less interested in photographing a particular historical moment than he is fascinated by the dangers each setting imposes upon his vulnerable protagonists and their fragile relationships." - Booklist

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Author Information

Dinaw Mengestu Author Biography

Blair Fethers

Dinaw Mengestu was born 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.

He is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University's MFA program in fiction. He is the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has also reported stories for Harper's and Jane magazine, profiling a young woman who was kidnapped and forced to become a soldier in the brutal war in Uganda, and for Rolling Stone on the tragedy in Darfur.

His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007), was named a New York Times Notable Book and awarded the Guardian First Book Award and the Los Angeles Times...

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Name Pronunciation
Dinaw Mengestu: dih-now men-guess-too

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