When I was a child, my favorite way to learn about someone or something else was to devour fiction. Considering how often I am mistaken for Ethiopian (daily, if not hourly), it feels apposite to learn a little about this unique, visible community in D.C. The next time I’m near a bookstore, I’m going to look for Georgetown Alum Dinaw Mengestu‘s work, whose first novel was born “when he spotted a solitary Ethiopian store owner while on a walk one day through the Adams-Morgan neighborhood” (via NYT):
Mr. Mengestu’s first novel, “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears,” focuses on an Ethiopian shopkeeper, living in isolation in a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington, who develops a tentative bond with a professor of American history, a white woman, and her precocious biracial daughter. The New York Times Book Review named the novel, whose title derives from Dante’s “Inferno,” as one of the notable books of 2007, and Mr. Mengestu quickly became a literary name to watch.
Here’s more on Mengestu–who made the New Yorker list of “20 under 40″ writers, for 2010– from NPR. I’ll tell you more when I finish one of his books. If any of you have read “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” or Mengestu’s new novel, “How to Read the Air,”, let me know what you think.