A New Immigration Story

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

I truly enjoyed this debut novel by Dinaw Mengestu.  Essentially this is the story of an African immigrant who is forced into exile in America as a teenager and grows up to be a disillusioned man who own a corner convenience store.  The story covers not only the eight month period of Sepha Stephanos’s futile relationship with Judith, the academic next door, but Sepha’s heartwrenching tale of immigratig from Ethiopia to Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s.  One of Mengestu’s strongests writing skills for me is his ability to make his characters come alive.  I was truly engaged not only in Sepha’s life, but lives of Judith, the love interest, Naomi, her daughter, Kenneth and Joseph, his fellow African immigrant friends, and Berhane, his uncle, as well.  This is a wonderfully engaging and well-crafted story of contemporary immigrant life in D.C. that anyone will enjoy.

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