The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

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Synopsis

Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

Watch a QuickTime interview with Dinaw Mengestu about this book.
 

About Dinaw Mengestu

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Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980, he and his family came to the United States. A graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University's MFA program in fiction, he lives in New York City.
 
Published March 1, 2007 by Riverhead Books. 244 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

Kirkus Reviews

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Every Tuesday evening, three friends meet in the back room of Sepha Stephanos’s bedraggled Logan Circle convenience store to drink, give advice and wax philosophical about Africa, their mother continent.

Nov 15 2006 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

The New York Times

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Among Naomi’s favorites is “The Brothers Karamazov” — because, as Judith explains to Stephanos, it’s the sort of book that will keep Stephanos reading to her for hours.

Mar 25 2007 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

The New York Times

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This first novel follows a group of exiles in a Washington neighborhood.

Mar 25 2007 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

Publishers Weekly

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After long days in the dusty, barely profitable shop, Sepha's two friends, Joseph from Congo and Kenneth from Kenya, joke with Sepha about African dictators and gently mock his romantic aspirations, while the neighborhood's loaded racial politics hang over Sepha and Judith's burgeoning relationsh...

Nov 20 2006 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

NPR

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In The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu portrays the isolation and struggles of an Ethiopian immigrant in Washington, D.C. The award-winning book is Mengestu's first novel.

Feb 19 2008 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

Entertainment Weekly

(Happy though this makes Stephanos, the relationship rings false, the kind of precious intergenerational rapport that turns up most often in movies.) Hesitantly, Stephanos begins to imagine a fuller life, one that could perhaps include a romance with Judith.

Feb 23 2007 | Read Full Review of The Beautiful Things That Hea...

Reader Rating for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
76%

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