BookBrowse Reviews The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

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The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

A Novel

by Dinaw Mengestu

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 240 pages
    Feb 2008, 240 pages

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A deeply affecting and unforgettable debut novel about what it means to lose a family and a country, and what it takes to create a new home

A pervading sense of low-level despair, so long present that it has become his accepted state, pervades the voice of Sepha Stephanos, the narrator of Mengestu's first novel. For most of the 17-years Sepha has been in the USA he has run a convenience store in the Logan Circle area of Washington DC, at first with enthusiasm that this would be his first step towards achieving the immigrant dream, but in recent years with an increasing sense of despondency and hopelessness.

In the early 90s a degree of hope enters his life when the run-down building next to his rented rooms is bought by a white woman who quickly renovates it to its former glory, in the process rubbing salt in the wounds of the long time residents of the neighborhood who bitterly resent the gentrification process that is causing many to be ...

Dinaw Mengestu (pronounced dih-now men-guess-too) 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, and is the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears is his first novel. 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.

In high school, Mengestu started trying to figure out who he was. "I wanted an identity so badly," ...

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