UMBC W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture: Linked Fates and Great Expectations
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An Ethiopian-American novelist who has garnered widespread critical acclaim for his intimate depictions of the immigrant experience in America, Dinaw Mengestu was named a “20 under 40” writer by The New Yorker and received the National Book Award Foundation’s “5 under 35” Award for his debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. This novel tells the story of Sepha Stephanos, who fled the Ethiopian Revolution and immigrated to the United States where he owns a failing grocery store and struggles with feelings of isolation and nostalgia. Mengestu was the recipient of the 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the 2008 Lannan Literary Fellowship, and received the 2012 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. Dinaw Mengestu is the author of three novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, How to Read the Air, and All Our Names. His latest novel, All Our Names, is an unforgettable love story about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s. Mengestu currently teaches at Georgetown University and Brooklyn College. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction. His fiction and journalism have been widely published.