In Uganda, two young men get caught up in a revolt against the post-colonial regime in the early 1970s. As the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart - one of them into the deepest peril. In a quiet town in the American Midwest, an exotic stranger arrives: an exchange student from Africa called Isaac. Helen, the social worker asked to help him settle in, quickly falls for him, though she soon learns to keep their affair hidden from prejudiced eyes. And she soon realises that Isaac is haunted by his mysterious past. Switching back and forth between Africa and America, this taut, searing novel blazes with insights about the physical and emotional geographies that circumscribe our lives. Writing within the tradition of Naipaul, Greene, and Achebe, Mengestu gives us a political novel that is also a transfixing portrait of love and grace, self-determination, and the names we are given and the names we earn.
Dinaw Mengestu was born in Ethiopia in 1978 and raised in Illinois. His first novel, Children of the Revolution (published in the US as The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears), won the Guardian First Book Award in 2007, as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. It was followed by How to Read the Air in 2010. Mengestu's novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages and his fiction and journalism have been published in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper's, Rolling Stone, and the Wall Street Journal. He was chosen for the 5 under 35 Award by the National Book Foundation in 2007 and was one of the New Yorker's 20 under 40 in 2010. In 2012, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. He currently lives with his family in New York.
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