Soon: Mengestu.

"The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears"

Last week, when I mentioned that I wanted to read something by Georgetown Alum Dinaw Mengestu, DCentric reader Danielle (who–if I have guessed from her profile correctly– is Visual Arts editor of the grassroots publication Liberator Magazine) helpfully pointed me towards the bookstores at Busboys and Poets.

I appreciated Danielle’s suggestion because I prefer the immediacy of walking out of a building with a book in my hands vs. buying online, saving four dollars and waiting a week for a cardboard box to arrive in the mail. And about that cardboard– I’m thrilled my apartment building has started offering more options for recycling, but I still feel guilty, as I break down boxes and dutifully trudge to the trash room to stack them up. That’s a discarded, dead tree…used to convey another dead tree.

Fortunately, I get a kick out of supporting independent Booksellers, so that usually prevents cardboard-induced guilt when it comes to procuring reading material. Last night, I unexpectedly had to run an errand near P Street, so I impulsively ran up to Kramerbooks and asked for some fiction. They had both of Mengestu’s books in stock. Huzzah! I’m excited about starting “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears”, especially because it takes place right here in D.C. I’d tell you what I think of it so far, but I’m finishing this book, first.

On my Reading List- Mengestu


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.

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