Text and Community Program Brings Dinaw Mengestu to Campus

Posted: April 2, 2014 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: April 3, 2014 at 7:11 am

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By Justin Lafreniere

Dinaw Mengetsu

Dinaw Mengestu

Award-winning author Dinaw Mengestu comes to George Mason University this spring as part of the New Leaves Conference and George Mason’s Text and Community Program. Mengestu will present a reading Tuesday, April 8, at 6 p.m. in Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Mengestu is the author of several short stories and three novels, including the recently released “All Our Names.” His first novel, “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears,” received The Guardian’s First Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book in 2007.

His books and stories often look at the complexities of racial identity and assimilation, particularly among Africans coming to the United States. His work explores the expanding American identity, and how identity affects people’s connections with one another. “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” takes place in Washington, D.C., and tells the story of Ethiopian immigrant and shopkeeper Sepha Stephanos as he attempts to identify and orient himself in an increasingly gentrified neighborhood.

“By experience and talent, Mengestu is equipped to take on the most harrowing questions of our time — how do we find our place, our people and ourselves when the world is spinning faster than we can control?” says Mason English professor Stephen Goodwin.

Mengestu is the chair of poetics at Georgetown University. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012 and was identified as one of the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” outstanding writers in 2010. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, where he wrote about the war in Darfur, and Jane magazine, where he wrote about the conflict in northern Uganda.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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