Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Winner of the Guardian First Book Prize
Winner of the Prix du Premier Roman
Synopses & Reviews
A literary debut hailed by the New York Times Book Review as a great American novel. 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.
"The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears takes us effortlessly through impressive changes of theme and mood....This is a great African novel, a great Washington novel and a great American novel." Rob Nixon, The New York Times Book Review
"Mengestu, himself an Ethiopian immigrant, engages the reader in a deftly drawn portrait of dreams in the face of harsh realities from the perspective of immigrants." Booklist
"Mengestu skirts immigrant-literature cliches and paints a beautiful portrait of a complex, conflicted man struggling with questions of love andloyalty. A nuanced slice of immigrant life." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] poignant story providing food for thought for those concerned with poverty and immigration....Recommended." Library Journal
"The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is not a conventional immigrant novel....Mengestu has something more ambitious and fundamentally unsettling in mind." Chicago Tribune
"[Mengestu's] straightforward language and his low-key voice combine to make a compelling narrative, one that loops back in time yet seems to move forward with an even pace." Dallas Morning News
"Mengestu also has a sense of humor that is pitch perfect, falling between complete despair and pure sarcasm." Los Angeles Times
"The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears is wonderfully written and moving. It gives personality and depth to the oft-mocked immigrant deli owner (Apu, anyone?) and draws a portrait of someone all readers can relate to. The story is carried by the wry humor of the observations that Stephanos and his friends make about life in America, and it's in those moments that Mengetsu does his best and most surprising work." Anya C. Yurchyshyn, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
About the Author
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.