Memphis Reads Author Dinaw Mengestu to Appear at Memphis Public Library and CBU

Posted on October 21, 2014


Dinaw Mengestu, Paris, 06/2007 © Mathieu Zazzo


Memphis Reads Author Dinaw Mengestu to Appear at Memphis Public Library and CBU

Memphis Reads, the citywide community reading program sponsored by Christian Brothers University and the Memphis Public Library and Information Center, in cooperation with the Memphis Mayor’s Office, will host author Dinaw Mengestu at both the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and CBU on November 4.

Mengestu is the author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, which was chosen by Memphis Reads as the inaugural book for its annual reading program to promote literacy in the city. The Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue) will host Mengestu for an author reading on November 4 at 5:30 p.m.

Following the reading, Mengestu will speak at the University Theater on the Christian Brothers University campus at 8:00 p.m. A booksigning will follow the author’s address at CBU.

Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and immigrated to the United States as a small child with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror. Mengestu is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction. He has been the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation, The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. In 2012, he was a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and was one of 23 to be awarded a genius grant from the foundation.He is currently serving as Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University.

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, first published in 2007, blends fiction with fact and Mengestu’s own history, detailing the experiences of an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington, DC after fleeing his country’s revolution seventeen years earlier. Told in a haunting and powerful first-person narration, the novel is a deeply affecting and unforgettable examination of what it means to lose a family and a country—and what it takes to create a new home. It deals with themes that are increasingly prevalent in our national and international conversations such as immigration, race, the concept of family, and the increasing divide between poverty and wealth. It won the Guardian Unlimited’s First Book Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book.

Memphis Reads is affiliated with the “Fresh Reads” program at CBU, part of the First Year Experience, wherein all incoming freshmen participate  in the read and hold discussions and other events throughout the school year. The Memphis Public Library is publishing the top ten essays on The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by CBU freshmen on its Memphis Reads blog site at

For more information on Memphis Reads and the appearances by Dinaw Mengestu, please contact Karen B. Golightly at (901) 321-4483 Further updates will also be posted at and at

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