Read Children of the Revolution by Dinaw Mengestu Online


Awards Include: Finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction Winner of the Guardian First Book PrizeNew York Times Notable Book Winner of the National Book Foundation's �5 Under 35� Award Recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship Winner of the Prix du Premier Roman Named the Seattle Reads Selection of 2008 SevenAwards Include: Finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction Winner of the Guardian First Book PrizeNew York Times Notable Book Winner of the National Book Foundation's �5 Under 35� Award Recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship Winner of the Prix du Premier Roman Named the Seattle Reads Selection of 2008 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....

Title : Children of the Revolution
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780099502739
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Children of the Revolution Reviews

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-01-06 10:23

    Onvan : The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears - Nevisande : Dinaw Mengestu - ISBN : 1594489408 - ISBN13 : 9781594489402 - Dar 240 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2007

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-12-22 12:14

    IL SEVERO CAPO CHINO DELL’AFRICA SEMBRA UNA TESTA DI UNA DONNA AVVOLTA NELLO SCIALLE Sepha fugge dall’Etiopia dopo che i militari hanno ucciso suo padre; lascia dietro la madre e il fratello più piccolo, e se li porta dentro ben serrati nella memoria.I had never really left Ethiopia. Addis Ababa 2004, foto Paolo Pellegrin-Magnum.Arriva in US, a Washington, si appoggia allo zio, anche lui espatriato, emigrante, profugo, esule, rifugiato, fuggitivo…Dopo un po’ di tempo, arriva il momento in cui sente di doversi muovere con le sue forze, il momento per esplorare nuovi territori e nuove esperienze. Non va molto lontano Sepha, il senso di sradicamento rimane, non riesce a superarlo del tutto: però riesce ad abborracciare una forma di esistenza in un quartiere povero della capitale aprendo un piccolo market, dove la notte gode della compagnia di prostitute e clienti che rendono il posto meno triste e deserto. Poi, le visite degli amici, un congolese e un keniota.Un tran tran che potrebbe durare a lungo se nel quartiere non si trasferisse una coppia speciale: Judith e sua figlia Naomi. Logan Circle, la piazza dove affaccia il negozio di Sepha a Washington, D.C.La ragazzina ha sangue misto, il padre è un professore di economia della Mauritania: sarà questo che la spinge a fare frequenti visite a Sepha, a trascorrere ore e pomeriggi interi nel suo piccolo negozio? Sarà la mancanza della figura paterna che la tiene inchiodata mentre l’etiope le legge “I fratelli Karamazov”? Judith è bianca, ha ristrutturato splendidamente la casa sulla piazza proprio di fronte al negozio, e una sera invita a cena Sepha…La bella casa di Judith e Naomi all’angolo con Logan Circle.Sepha vorrebbe essere fedele a due patrie, non tradire quella d’origine in Africa, e abbracciare quella nuova che l’ha accolto in Occidente. Ma sa che ciò a cui si fa ritorno non potrà mai essere quello che abbiamo lasciato. Neppure il paese della grande libertà è riuscito a sconfiggere i pregiudizi, né di classe né di colore della pelle. Mi è piaciuto questo romanzo, esordio di Dinaw Mengestu. Tra le altre cose, è anche una prospettiva diversa al tema dell’emigrazione.Dinaw Mengestu da piccolo con la sorella

  • Peter
    2018-12-25 12:17

    This is a magnificently simple book. Deceptively simple, like the Old Man and the Sea, in that you breeze through it and think "nice story" but when you pause for one moment and think about it, you realize that it is so much more than a nice story.A blend of the political uncertainties and accompanying atrocities of the African continent with the ever present class struggles (overlaid by racial tension) of America. The parallels and similarities are clear but woven through the book in a way that respects the readers' abilities to understand them on their own.It is also a tale of immigrants blending together the lives they left behind with the lives they are leading with the lives they want to have and justifying the possibilities.It is a sensitive book and a kind book, full of passion yet gently written. It is a book that causes thought but one cannot say it is a clever book. "Clever" implies that games were played and to say that about this book would be a jab to its heart.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-24 17:09

    Big disappointment. This is all about an Ethiopian refugee who's now been in Washington DC for 17 years and runs a grocery store in a poor neighbourhood. Now the author must know whereof he speaks, but I could hardly believe the picture he painted. In 17 years, we are to understand that Sepha, our immigrant, has made precisely two friends. And these two friends have only made two friends - each other. And none of these three immigrant friends have got married or had any long term relationships. Really? Their lives have been lived in a state of suspended animation otherwise known as mild coma, life as it is lived when you can't find the remote control. I may be as far as it is possible from being an Ethiopian immigrant, but I could not believe this stuff.The other thing is that this novel is relentlessly downbeat. You scour the pages for an echo of an upbeat - oh, was that one? Nah. Everything goes from bad to worse. If a little sprig of hope grows up (as in the lovely friendship between Sepha and his neighbour's daughter) you can be sure it will be squashed without mercy a few pages down the line.Eventually - well, actually quite quickly - this novel wears out its welcome. Sepha is such a refined, Dostoievsky-munching languid deadbeat. He can't be arsed to open up his shop most of the time. He lets everything fall into graceless decay, and that's okay by him because - well, because of the ghastly trauma suffered back in Addis Ababa when his father was shot as an imperialist lackey. That's bad all right, and it might be enough to paralyse the son's life. So okay, make this guy a minor character in some other Ethiopian immigrant's story, instead of making us wade through 228 pages of moping about.

  • Marieke
    2019-01-20 16:32

    wow--what a compact, melancholy little novel. written in overlapping layers as the narrator grapples with what has become of his life, it's almost like a snowglobe of sadness, isolation, regret, and loss. shake it, and you see fragments of Sepha's family life in Addis Ababa; shake it again, and you see fragments of his friendship with two other African immigrants, apparently his only close and sustained friendships in America; shake it yet again, you see him navigate with poignancy a new friendship with the biracial daughter of the white woman who moved into the neighborhood and you see him navigate his complex feelings of attraction to the white woman; shake it again and you see the complexity of a typical DC neighborhood left to rot after the 1968 riots and struggling now with creeping gentrification. Sepha is not really one of the people of the neighborhood, despite having lived there for a long time, and the white woman, Judith, definitely is not--Judith is part of the scorned "they." in the neighborhood where i lived in DC for eight years "they" (myself included even though i bought my house before gentrification took off and i failed to renovate until i wanted to move) were called "new people," which always made me laugh because it only ever referred to white people; a black person moving in to the neighborhood and fixing up a house was never called "new people." The Logan Circle that Mengestu described through Sepha's story rang true with me and made me wish we had more such literary gems about DC. We have an overabundance of spy thrillers, crime thrillers, voyeuristic tales about the movers and shakers in government, lobby firms, white-shoe law firms, etc...which turns DC into a bit of a caricature. DC is so much more than that. it's a small city that happens to hold the seat of government, but it's full of neighborhoods full of normal everyday people who cover the spectrum of socio-economic status--from chronically homeless and possibly psychotic to large populations of immigrants working three jobs to black or white middle-class to ridiculously wealthy, white or black. the neighborhoods of DC have been rather segregated for decades now, but something happened in the late 1990s that turned the tide. broken down neighborhoods that had been neglected for nearly two generations suddenly became desirable. Disenfranchised people suddenly found themselves threatened with dispossession, if not dispossessed. Young, middle-class people priced out of more "appropriate" neighborhoods, see a chance to live in the city and become part of it but have to struggle with invisible barriers they don't understand. Developers and the Office of Tax and Revenue see a grand opportunity, in some cases razing entire neighborhoods that had been the home of entrenched open-air drug markets for at least twenty years in order to build beautiful modern office buildings, high-scale apartments and condos, and a new baseball stadium. Mengestu captures this dynamic in a subtle, frank way that left me wishing that more writers would take the time to write about this DC.

  • Emma
    2019-01-04 16:14

    The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears was the July selection for my book club, but I almost didn't read it because I knew I wouldn't be able to make the actual meeting. But, I decided to read it anyway and I'm glad I did. My expectations going in may have shaped my feelings about the book. I knew that it was written by an Ethiopian immigrant and that it was about the Ethiopian immigrant experience in Washington, D.C. Before picking it up, I assumed it was a memoir. I thought it would be dense and that my main motivation for turning each page would be because it was something I SHOULD read. I could not have been more wrong. It's fiction, very readable, and I learned a lot without feeling SHOULD-ed into it. Having lived in D.C. for two years, it was interesting to read a story that takes place in a familiar setting.This is not a book, however, where much actually happens. It's the story of an Ethiopian immigrant (did I cover that?) named Stephanos who owns a corner convenience store and deli counter in Logan's Circle, which is on the cusp of gentrification. The novel unfolds in a non-linear fashion; time goes back and forth between the present day, a few years prior, the time when he first arrived in the U.S., and his previous life in Ethiopia. The title comes fromDante'sInferno, at the point where the poet leaves Hell. This is a fitting image, as Stephanos (and most of the other characters) seems to be in a continual state of limbo, which is Dante's first circle of Hell. When he first moved to the United States, he barely interacted with the outside world because his heart was still in Ethiopia. Now, he's barely floating through the days, struggling to keep his store in business, though "struggling" implies effort. There are a few moments where Stephanos almost grasps "the beautiful things that heaven bears," taking control of his life, but these quickly slip by. The ending seems optimistic, but is ambiguous. Does Stephanos finally leave Hell, or does he once again get swept into the circle of limbo?Circles are a prominent metaphor in the novel - most notably, Logan Circle itself, where General Logan proudly sits atop his horse. There's also the cyclical nature of gentrification . Stephanos boasts to two tourist that wander into his store that it used to be one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the District, full of senators, congressmen, relatives of presidents; you had to have connections, money, and power to live there. Since Stephanos has lived in Logan's Circle, it had always been run-down, but declined even further as the years passed by. Soon enough, a white woman moves into and restores the deteriorating Victorian mansion next door and developers begin evicting the long-time residents. Finally, there's the circadian rhythm of Stephanos's life, where most days resemble the day before - opening the store, watching the typical flow of customers, sitting with his two friends after closing each night. The story is sad. Not so much in the horrifically tragic way, though the flashbacks to Ethiopia are heartbreaking. It's more that there is a quiet melancholy exuding from each of the characters. The novel is character-driven, not plot-driven, and each one's despondent state provides insight into the impacts of gentrification and about what it is like to be an immigrant.

  • Rashida
    2019-01-09 18:30

    It came down to two things for me: The narrator and the location. The narrator's voice is haunting and sweet. Tinged with sadness and hope, that at times made it difficult to bear. But it propelled me on, hoping to see this kind and pitiful man receive some happiness, some lasting beauty in his life. The other characters are mere set pieces (and perhaps I should deduct a star for that?) to generate reaction from our narrator, to give us some peek into his psyche. But those peeks are so well rewarded that I don't mind the lack of depth afforded to the other players in this tale. And given that it's a first person narrative, that's not such a big flaw. We can only know the other characters as well as our narrator knows them himself and with as much information as he chooses to reveal. The absence of deep and personal relationships is at the heart of Sepha's story, and it serves to illuminate his loneliness and isolation. He's no martyred saint. He's had his share of tragedy and ill shakes in life, but undeniably he's contributed to his present condition through his own inactions and turbidity. But that only shows us his very real soul and his fragile humanity. Mengestu has done a beautiful job showing us this person.As for the location. Well, conflicted feelings. This is describing gentrifying that began some 20 years ago, but has hit a frenzy peak now. The restaurants, theaters, chain organic grocery stores. And only 4 miles down the road from me! I like all those things. But I don't like that people got pushed out to bring it. Or is it that I don't like that I can't afford to live there, either? Is it only a problem because it's gentrified past me? Would I have shopped in Sepha's store? Would I have complained of prostitutes in the park? Gaah. Uncomfortable questions. While this particular incarnation is local to me, and therefore seems especially close, I imagine these issues can be extrapolated to any urban area and speak to many readers. Of course, I can't falsely distance myself to test that theory. I look forward to the next efforts of Mr. Mengestu.

  • Garythe Bookworm
    2018-12-31 10:25

    This is an excellent book. On its surface it's about the immigrant experience, but it delves deeper and achieves a universality which is much more profound. Anyone who has ever experienced the dislocation of not belonging to a time or place can relate to this story. Despite socio-economic differences, these characters share a struggle to be part of something greater than themselves. This individual striving to belong assumes socio-political implications as the plot enfolds. Social unrest in a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington, DC mirrors the horrors of revolutionary Africa. And for those who are straddling between those worlds, nothing can erase their sense of alienation. That their stories play out in the US capital, makes this an especially gripping tale of life in America in its waning days of dominance in the world.

  • El
    2019-01-16 16:16

    Seventeen years ago Sepha Stephanos fled Ethiopia during the revolution which called Sepha's father. Now Sepha owns and works in a convenience store in a poor African-American neighborhood in Washington, D.C. In seventeen years (seventeen!) Sepha has made friends with a couple other immigrants from his home country, but that is the extent of his relationships in the entire time. As the neighborhood falls apart around him, and his store continues to fail (it doesn't help that he's rather lackadaisical about working anyhow...), racial incidents begin to occur. In the midst of the turmoil Sepha meets a white woman, Judith, and her biracial daughter, Naomi, as they move in. There is a feeling of hope and peace with their arrival since, you know, it takes a white person to fix the bad neighborhoods. (Yeah, that is called sarcasm.)I really wanted to like this book more. Maybe it would have made more sense told from a different perspective. The story itself was written well and from a first person perspective, which makes me argue if Sepha was such a good narrator, perhaps he should have been doing something else with his time other than working in a failing convenience store. Just an idea. His lack of concern for anything in his life, his laziness, drove me nuts and makes me question why he left Ethiopia in the first place - obsensibly it was to make a better life for himself, and sure, I suppose not having a gun to your head regularly makes a better life, but maybe I'm missing something here.Again, Mengestu wrote beautifully but the story itself was hard to swallow. Not bad for a first novel. Sure beats my own first novel. (Yeah, that's right, I don't have one.)

  • Richard Derus
    2018-12-27 13:18

    Rating: 4.25* of fiveHow wonderful it is to find a first novel that feels so accomplished and tells such an engrossing story. I can't imagine that real, enjoyable talent is becoming rarer in a world that contains such eloquent proofs of its health.Mengestu tells the story of three friends, African immigrants all, who meet in Washington DC, for so long the home territory of nativist sentiment in our republic of exclusion. I don't think a recap of the plot will help anyone decide whether or not to buy the book, because its outlines are simple: Men seeking material success in the motherland of same are thwarted and, through effort and good fortune, succeed at things they weren't looking to succeed at...temporarily.A fire plays a major role in completing the story, and since I am currently seeing a fireman, that caught my eye. It's not, to my surprise, used as a pat plot device, but imbued with a real sense of the inevitability of sadness, loss, and change in the entwined lives of three lovely characters. Naomi, to name but one, is a heartbreakingly well observed actor in the piece despite her tender years, and Judith her mother is such a deftly drawn, conflicted, real person that I was tempted to look her up in the phone book; as for Sepha, he can come stay with me until things get better. That's the kind of connection Mengestu's characters call forth in me, and I hope in you too.Bravo, Dinaw Mengestu. Thanks. Write...well, publish...more soon, please. Recommended for all readers of fiction.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-21 13:14

    This novel, the first by Dinaw Mengestu, is set in Washington, DC, at the beginning of the 2000’s. It about African immigrants, one in particular, Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian refugee, and the changing city. Sepha runs a small corner grocery store, but after 17 years in the United States, he still hasn’t found his way. He fled his country at the age of 19 after his father was taken away from his home, and killed. His only family member in America, an “uncle” left behind a comfortable life in Ethiopia, and works endless hours as a taxi driver. Ethiopian immigrants, most of who were refugees of military coups, form a large community in the Washington DC area. They seem to be ubiquitous in the taxi business, and as employees in parking garages (I am not sure why). Sepha and his friends, Kenneth from Kenya and Joseph from Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, meet working at a hotel, and their friendship revolves around their common exile, political turmoil at home, and their “Africanness”. Sepha, like his friends, never finds “success” in his new country. The crux of this is Sepha’s feeling summarized in his observation “How was I supposed to live in America, when I had never really left Ethiopia?” Sepha lives in Logan Circle, a Washington DC neighborhood only a little over a mile from the White House. Until the early 2000’s, it was a neighborhood plagued by drugs and prostitution. At the same time, there were many African American residents who had lived there for decades. As the novel opens, a four-story mansion next to Sepha’s apartment, is being renovated. He hears the construction workers commenting on the lavish details such as 4 bathrooms for 2 people, and bookcases with sliding doors. The new resident turns out to be an university professor, a white American woman named Judith, and her 11-year-old daughter Naomi, a product of her broken marriage with an economist from Mauritania. Sepha becomes close to Naomi, who visits him most days in his market, and is confused about Judith, who seems to want to be close, but is always giving mixed signals.Sepha has never invested the time and energy in his market to make it a success. He struggles with overdue bills, and his market refrigerator is full of expired milk and eggs. Encouraged by his friend Kenneth, he tries different schemes to improve his business, but they come to nought. Sepha struggles with loneliness, and a lack of motivation. He seems rootless in America. At the same time, his neighborhood is changing, and this novel is also a story of gentrification and its impact on residents. Evictions begin, and the efforts to fight the wave of development and incoming well-off newcomers are limited. This is an exceptional first novel, and one that tells multiple stories. The story is well-crafted and occasionally the prose is luminous. It describes a Washington D.C. which is seldom portrayed. Another book that accomplishes this is Edward P. Jones 1992 collection Lost in the City which was nominated for the National Book Award. The title “The beautiful things that heaven bears” is a passage from the last few lines of Dante’s Inferno, just as Dante is preparing to leave Hell. The rest of the phase is“where we came forth and once more saw the stars." For his friend Joseph, this phrase represents the unobtained dreams of Africa, always on the verge of new beginnings which never seem to come to fruition.

  • Jack
    2018-12-22 14:19

    Sadly, this book never really took off for me. I liked the subject (it's about an Ethiopian immigrant living in a gentrifying neighborhood in DC), but I didn't really get into the characters so emotionally the story fell flat. Half of the story is told in flashbacks telling about the narrator's burgeoning romance with a wealthy white woman who moves into his poor neighborhood, and the other half deals with the fall-out from that relationship. I didn't feel like the balance between these two stories worked well (the flashback stuff was much more compelling than watching the narrator stumble despondently around DC).Ultimately the book seemed confused about what it was trying to say. There are some very important and pertinent ideas in this book, but they come out as something of a muddle. Additionally, the author has a sort of obnoxious habit making his point by quoting lengthy passages from Emerson and de Tocqueville. I understand what he is trying to do (tie his story in with the story of America) and I don't mind that he's doing it per se. It's that the rest of the story is so flimsy that it comes off as heavy-handed -- "See, THIS is what I'm trying to say!" Seattle chose this book as their Seattle Reads selection this year, so lots of people are reading it and there are going to be a number of community discussions about it (some of which I plan on going to). I think this is great: again, the issues it brings up are very important, and the book humanizes the experience of those of "the other side" of gentrification well. I just wish it had been better...

  • Suzanne
    2019-01-19 10:28

    Truly a beautiful book! It's hard for me to imagine that this young, driven author was able to describe so well the aimlessness, the lack of drive and energy of Sepha. The novel is about Ethiopian immigrants, but it is really about anyone who is detatched and lost.The setting is D. C., but it is really about any neighborhood which is in decline. The residents hate that the Circle is so poor and ugly and hate that its gentrification will dislocate them.Sepha easily falls in love with ten year old Naomi, and her mother, Judith. Is it them that he loves or is he missing his family, which he has abandoned. He reveres his uncle, yet contemplates stealing the old man's savings.A turning point for Sepha is Judith's off hand comment,"It looks like you've gone and picked the wrong family." He can't get past this. He can't stay on course to make this family or any family, his own.Of course Sepha has an excuse. He had to flee a bloody, useless revolution. Sepha made many choices by not choosing, not opening his store early, not stocking it, not cleaning it. Luckily for us, although Mengestu also fled from Ethiopia during the Red Terror, he has managed to write a novel about isolated immigrants and isolated people who are easily recognized today and sorrowfully tomorrow.

  • Marsha
    2018-12-24 15:23

    The best things about this book are the title, which comes from some lines in Dante's Inferno and the writing--Mengestu uses language beautifully. I even liked the characters at first. It just got so redundant and boring to read about the endless cycle of resignation and defeatism that the main character couldn't break out of. He was so pathetic and irritating. Sepha Stephanos fled from a bloody revolution in Ethiopia after watching his father be beaten and taken away. It has been 17 years and he lives in a rough neighborhood in Washington DC where he owns and operates a neighborhood store. He seems to be smart, but it is difficult to tell because he does nothing with his life. It seems that anything of value he starts to acquire, he does his best to lose or alienate, including his store and his relationships. His poor opinion of himself is a constant self-fufilling prophecy. If this was non-fiction, that would be one thing--I am extremely interested in real life stories and they are what they are; however, this is fiction. The author could have done anything with Sepha's character. Why not have some hope inserted somewhere? Why not have him show some growth in any area? He ended up in worse shape than when he started.

  • Evgeniya
    2019-01-16 10:29

    Много интимна книга, на моменти чак ми беше неудобно, сякаш непознат човек ми споделя безкрайно лични неща за себе си... Откровена, романтично-носталгична, по приятния начин. Насладих й се напълно, като на гоооооляма чаша ароматен чай (или нещо такова).

  • Jeffrey Dinsmore
    2019-01-09 10:21

    Full disclosure: I know the author of this book. It is very difficult to judge a book by an author you know. Unless that author is me, in which case it is easy: prognosis - brilliant! This is the story of an immigrant from Ethiopia and his relationship with his friends, neighbors, and in particular, a small girl in the neighborhood. Not a lot happens, but we learn a lot about the characters and the difficulties facing immigrants in America. The book is getting raves from reviewers, and deservedly so. The only reason I would not give it a higher rating is that I tend to read a different type of book. This is a highly introspective story of a pretty sad person who is surrounded by sad events. My tastes tend toward the ridiculous, plot-heavy, and absurd, so I am probably not the best audience to be reviewing this book.Dinaw writes like a dream, for sure. I wish I had one ounce of his poetic abilities. He has written a beautiful book full of memorable characters, but being the type of person who likes to see shit blowing up, I am afraid I cannot give it the review it deserves.

  • Bren
    2019-01-21 12:23

    I won't be assigning this book to my students, because its depressing, and not a lot happens. Melancholy Ethiopian exile approaching middle-age runs shabby corner store in DC, makes only two friends over the course of seventeen years, botches romance with divorced professor lady, and remains traumatized by the death of his father at the hands of the Mengistu regime. See what I mean? And yet, I absolutely loved it. Its wryly funny, totally heartbreaking, and wonderful on being a reluctant immigrant, and on the city of Washington itself-which I think is a melancholy place in its own right. He's a fantastic writer.

  • Andrew
    2018-12-22 13:31

    Dinaw Mengestu has written a fine, chilly, American novel set in the America of rundown used car lots and empty strip clubs, dead cities and their suburban fringes, of lonely commuter trains from nowhere to nowhere. Despite the African origins of most of the characters, and the author's own Ethiopian birth, this is very, very much an American novel-- in its stern-faced tone that harkens back to the American novel's mid-century glory days, in its alienated narrator, in its hard-luck immigrants, like a Diane Arbus photo made prose.

  • Nevena
    2018-12-25 14:22

    Кротка и красиво написана книга. Без в нея да се случват много събития, но не ми беше скучна. Гледната точка на протагониста ми беше интересна – всичко е предадено през неговия меланхоличен, да не кажа депресивен, но и чувствителен и добър поглед. Така и аз видях нещо, което по принцип ми е познато – имиграцията, по различен начин. И тай като писането е добро, това съпреживяване на различен от моя опит беше пълноценно и обогатяващо преживяване.

  • Praxedes
    2018-12-23 15:08

    I read half of this beautifully written book and was done with it. In a word, nothing happens. A borderline-depressed Ethiopian national lives in Washington DC and endlessly recounts his apathy and general listlessness with life. And when I say nothing happens I am not using hyperbole...nothing happens! The lovely prose was simply not enough to keep me engage in this endless nothingness.

  • Sarah
    2019-01-18 11:20

    4.5 out of 5 stars! ⭐️ I really loved reading this book at university. It was so much fun. I even wrote a paper on it during my bachelor. It‘s such a „beautiful“ story of an Ethopian immigrant who came to America during the Ethopian revolution wanting to fulfill his version of the American dream. I‘d very very much recommend reading it!!! 😍👌🏻📖

  • James
    2019-01-12 11:06

    Beautifully written story of an ethiopian immigrant in DC. For me it perfectly captured the alienness of belonging to two cultures and therefore belonging to none. Gave it three stars and not for just because for me the ending lacked any closure

  • NeDa
    2019-01-21 12:07

    Тиха доброта лъха от всяка страница на тази книга ... Прекрасна!

  • Francesca Forrest
    2019-01-13 14:06

    Gentle in tone and intimate in its focus, this is exactly the sort of book I was hoping it would be when I suggested it as a possibility for my book group. Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant to the United States, has just two friends, Kenneth (from Kenya) and Joseph (from Congo/Zaire), and spends his days alone reading in his rundown convenience store in a poor neighborhood in Washington, DC. The neighborhood is beginning to be gentrified, and Sepha is befriended by a white incomer, Judith (a professor of American history), and Judith's eleven-year-old biracial daughter Naomi. Sepha's story--the reason for his lonely solitude--unfolds through after-work conversations he has with Kenneth and Joseph, through his reading sessions with Naomi (they're working on The Brothers Karamazov, which Naomi picked at random for its heft), and somewhat awkward meals with Judith. All the characters are intensely likable and sympathetic, including those present only in Sepha's recollection, such as his gentle, storytelling father, who was a lawyer, or Sepha's uncle, who abandoned the magnificent house he had built when he realized revolution was coming, and who has sent letters to every US president, pleading on Ethiopia's behalf, since his arrival in the United States in the 1970s.I couldn't stop marking passages down for their beauty and the way they moved me. At one point, Sepha leaves his shop in the middle of the day to follow a happy-seeming tourist couple who had dropped in to buy something. He looks back at his shop:I can see it clearly from here, everything from the sagging right gutter to the streaks of blue paint along the side to the metal bars over the windows shining in the sun. How is it that in all these years, I've never seen my store look quite like this? I can imagine it wanting to be spared the burden of having to survive another year. The door is unlocked. The sign is flipped to "Open" and the cash register, with its contents totalling $3.28, is ajar. I wonder if this is what it feels like to walk out on your wife and children. If this is what it feels like to leave a car on the side of the highway and never come back for it. What is the proper equation, the perfect simile or metaphor? I'm an immigrant. I should know this. I've done it before.Ahh, it just hit me in the chest, not in a gratuitous way, but in a true way. I--who am not an immigrant, who did not witness horrors visited on a loved one or lose family in a revolution, who do not live in a poor urban neighborhood, who share with him only a melancholic nature--identified with him viscerally and completely: it's down to the power of Mengestu's writing.A matter-of fact sadness is at the core of the book, and yet it's never lugubrious or soppy or overwrought; there's plenty of understated humor: "It's nice to think there's a purpose, or even a real decision that turns everything [in one's life] in one direction," remarks Judith, "but that's not always true, is it? We just fall into our lives. How did you get to own a grocery store?" To which Sepha replies, "Some people are just lucky."Sepha's time reading with Naomi is wonderful. About it, he thinks,Every time I looked at her I became aware of just how seemingly perfect this time was. I thought about how years from now I would remember this with a crushing, heartbreaking nostalgia, because of course I knew even then that I would eventually find myself standing here alone. And just as that knowledge would threaten to destroy the scene, Naomi would do something small, like turn the page to early or shift in her chair, and I would be happy once again.Isn't that the secret to the sadness and joy of life, right there? It hit me with the force of its truth. When Sepha reads, he recalls his father's stories:The stories he invented himself he told with particular delight. They all began the same way, with the same lighthearted tone, with a small wave of the hand, as if the world were being brushed to the side, which I suppose for him it actually was."Ah, that reminds me, Did I tell you about--The shepherd who beat his sheep too hardThe farmer who was too lazy to plow his fieldsThe hyena who laughed himself to deathThe lion who tried to steal the monkey's dinnerThe monkey who tried to steal the lion's dinner?"Yes, we meet the father this way, casually, through affectionate memories--which makes the crucial scene in the center of the book all the more devastating. Devastating, but not gratuitous, not unbearable. Let me leave you with one more quote, from when the number of evictions in Sepha's neighborhood has started to rise. He walks by one of the homes:It didn't matter where you lived, or where you came from, or how far you had traveled, somewhere near you someone was on the run.Truth. I loved the book. I loved the characters. I loved the insight. It won't be for everyone: it's very small scale, and it's melancholic--a little too much so for one member of my book group, but absolutely perfect for me. And as I say, there's humor here, and beauty, and love, and the pain is only the natural pain that comes from waking up and finding yourself doomed to be human.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-19 16:24

    i finished reading this novel earlier today, and i have been pondering on it a lot. my brain keeps doing this:the beautiful things that heaven bears, brought to you by the letter D:* debut* diaspora* d.c. (washington)* dante* dostoevsky* disconnection* dreamsmaybe now that i've typed that out, i can move on? heh.“To get back up to the shining world from thereMy guide and I went into that hidden tunnel,And Following its path, we took no careTo rest, but climbed: he first, then I-so far,through a round aperture I saw appearSome of the beautiful things that Heaven bears,Where we came forth, and once more saw the stars.”~ Dante Alighieri, from Dante's Infernookay, so... i found this to be a heartbreakingly lovely book. mengetsu is a wonderful writer, and this is a very strong debut. i was very moved in reading about sepha's struggles as an ethiopian immigrant in washington d.c., and i was wanting the best for him. sigh. i was amused by the game sepha played with his friends - joseph from the congo, and kenneth from kenya. they had an ongoing 'coup challenge' to select different african countries, then naming the year the coups occurred, and the dictator. i mean, it's really not funny at all. but the fact is this is how these three men were bonding, and that this was the reality they had each left/escaped and which they couldn't forget.sepha owns a variety store in the rundown logan circle neighbourhood of washington d.c. the area is undergoing gentrification, creating an us and them situation. us being the long-term black residents who are being priced out of their homes, and the 'them' ("they", in the book) being upper-middle class white people. one such white woman, judith, purchases a neighbouring home and renovates it beautifully. she has a young daughter, naomi. naomi is biracial, her father from mauritania. i think the cultural coming together is an important piece of the story - so many people struggle to find their place in the world. these challenges were amplified through sepha as his hopes and dreams of america, and where he fit in in his new home, seemed to remain just out of reach.naomi and sepha's friendship was a highlight of the story for me, and i would have loved to have had more of naomi's character. together they read The Brothers Karamazov - sepha reading aloud to naomi, an exercise they both loved, and to which they both looked only hesitations with this story had to do with sepha's role as a shop owner. i didn't quite get why or how he ended up in this position. it seems a stereotypical presentation - an immigrant running a corner store. it also felt like sepha just wasn't fully invested in the enterprise. i couldn't quite put my finger on whether his lack of action or interest in his shop was a symptom of his displacement, and a reflection of being worn down by circumstances? or if something else was going on here. sepha's ennui was understandable in so many other places. and his loneliness was so sad. "...a man stuck between two worlds lives and dies alone. I have dangled and been suspended long enough." i feel mengetsu strongly captured the immigrant experience. and i was very taken with the slice of washington d.c. he shared in this book. when settings play a large role in a story, and the writer has done this well, it's an added bonus for me in my reading.anyway... i am getting a bit ramble-y and incoherent here. so i will stop. i am still thinking on the book and may update this review.

  • Rajesh
    2019-01-19 11:18

    Mediocrity’s Cookbook: A review of Dinaw Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things That Heaven BearsBy Rajesh Barnabas(For The Ethiopian American, January 2007)From majestic auspices a middle aged Ethiopian-American shopkeeper negotiates his own desires against the envisioned hopes of his family ancestry or more accurately – his interpretation of their hopes. Sepha Stephanos lives in DC. He moved out of his uncle’s apartment, estranged from the only relative he has in America. His mother and brother still live in Ethiopia. Instruments used to measure the significance of his life are found in the casual acquaintances of Logan Circle and his meditative walks around the Capitol. The setting’s resemblance to Addis sparks a flickering recollection of violent events that tore apart his family and destroyed the kingdom of Ethiopia. Among many themes gently crammed into the short novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, a sense of a lost glory recovered or in the least resuscitated, persists. At times wistful, other times with begrudging sarcasm, author Dinaw Mengestu’s characters explore the emotions of first generation immigrants and their reticence to the motherland and any attempt at recreating that world among transplants in America. All three friends – Ken from Kenya, Joe from the Congo, and Sepha from Ethiopia pride themselves in keeping at arms length their own countrymen and customs. Weary of aged emperors, disgusted by pubescent revolutionaries, the thirty-something Sepha consoles his expired ambition with incremental progress. Business at the corner store is okay. “Never good. Never Bad. Simply okay. Could be better. Grateful it’s not worse.” And when Sepha opens his shop on Christmas day, because he has no family near to celebrate with, the silence comforts him. “There were no cars. There were no people on the sidewalk or in the circle. It felt as if the world had been abandoned by the people who had been busy making it and destroying it, and now the only ones left were timid shopkeepers like myself. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, if not for eternity, then at least for a few hours once a year.” Sepha has already seen during childhood the damage that misguided ambition can bring. Not everyone wants to be king or the inventor of Microsoft Windows, yet Sepha’s meditations are of a different micro-cosm, spoken in a softer language, and through a window of his own making. With Taoist temper, the character meanders through the middle of class, ethnicity, and generations attempting to do no more harm, trying to tell his story without being noticed. Sepha’s long introspective walks full of social commentary are reminiscent of the nameless narrator’s in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The plot of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears wanders along stealthily building momentum and only contemplates sprinting. In this, Mengestu has a knack for the non-event, of anticipations, at describing the inner workings of inaction. Stephanos romance with the only white woman on the block is used for symbolism as much as suspense. With characters drawn so engagingly, I caught myself once nervously looking up from the book to see if Judith was around. This is quite a feat-- to make the reader vigilant of their surroundings. Mengestu’s first novel is not a page-turner. It’s a book you have to put down and think about – a window into our own life and the world around. What are we doing? Where is this going? Where are we from? Who cares? Thirty years from now what stories will we look back on? Who will we remember? What does it all matter? However dirty and shattered the window seems sometimes, it’s all we have. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears debates whether we should be okay with that.

  • Maria
    2018-12-27 10:11

    От цялата книга лъха меланхолия. Чета и си мисля за самотата на човека, заседнал между двата свята. Без възможност да се върне назад, но и без мотивация, без енергия да продължи напред. Като че ли това е съдбата на голяма част от емигрантите - виждат едно идеализирано минало, страдат по отдавна отчуждили се близки, по отдавна изгубени места и спомени. А в новата държава винаги ще си останат пришълци от някъде. В книгата мога да почуствам самотата много силно, може би точно тя обезсмисля всякакви усилия за развитие у героя. Като че ли Стефанос не вижда смисъл за какво и за кого да продължава. Наоми и Джулия му определят посоката поне за кратко. Но още в началото на тяхната връзка е ясно, че не е така просто човек да се сдобие със семейство, че отговорът не е толкова очевиден. Не става тайа - бързо да откриеш щастие, дошло отвън, след като животът ти е вегетирал дълги години на някакъв предел. Човек трябва да достигне това щастие в себе си. Сам да реши, че иска да продължи, да остави миналото и смело да прекрачи в новия си живот.Трудно разбирам липсата на желание за развитие у Стефанос. По-скоро го разбирам, но не го приемам (което си е моят светоглед, различен от този на автора). През цялото време сюжетът на книгата като че ли се плъзга по повърхността, както и животът на Сефа. Не се задълбочи нито в разказ за далечното минало в Етиопия, нито в близкото минало - историята с Джудит и Наоми, нито във връзката с приятелите, бащата, чичото, университета. Може би е нарочно, за да подчертае цялостната липса на перспектива, все едно нищо от случилото се или случващото се в момента няма значение. Книгата остава с отворен финал. И макар да не харесвам особено такива книги, все пак финалът е оптимистично отворен. С обещанието, че нещо хубаво ще се случи, след като Стефанос разбра къде му е мястото. Но този финал дойде някак набързо, след цялостното усещане за тъга и безнадеждност от предишните страници.

  • Кремена Михайлова
    2019-01-21 14:28

    Още от корицата ме лъхна спокойствие (и от заглавието) и се оказа точно такава и книгата. Имах нужда от нещо такова. Семпло, но мило. Без дори да ме кара да мисля кой знае колко. След толкова американски книги и филми пак ми беше приятно да видя един типичен беден neighbourhood на чернокожи. Лесно влязох в атмосферата. Поради характера на главния герой може читателят да си помисли, че нищо не се случва, да, не е типичната книга с динамичен сюжет, а по- скоро разказ, спомен…Като за начинаещ писател ми хареса, има си отличителен стил авторът. По бавността и детайлността, по настроението и атмосферата ми напомняше на Уортън (като разбира се може изобщо да не го е чел, просто гласовете на двамата си приличат).Книга за малките добри обикновени хора, за кръста на разкрачения между два континента, между минало и настояще емигрант.Бих могла и малко по-висока оценка да дам. Три звезди са не защото не ми харесва как е написана книгата, а защото обикновено не ми допадат меланхоличните книги… Не си позволих да критикувам главния герой и неговия живот – без движение, напредък, смелост за промени… Един-два пъти си казах познатото „Какво му трябва на човек“… И отговорът за тази книга беше лесен – не имущество, богатство, професионално развитие, а човешка близост… Най-много самотата ми беше тежка тук.Освен за живота на този самотник се замислих и за това докога ще ги има по света тези неща, които все си мисля, че са останали в миналото, но дали… - бунтовнически банди, вилнеещи из Африка, расова нетърпимост и социално разделение в САЩ. От друга страна си помислих – все пак всеки отделен човек има възможност за избор (поне там, където не си играят на война)…

  • Marguerite
    2019-01-08 16:10

    A thoughtful, sometimes comic, book that explains the American immigrant experience better than anything else I've read. Shopkeeper Sepha appears to embody the American dream, but with his heart still in Ethiopia, his hopes are exiled. He bides his time selling beer and diapers and playing a drinking/trivia game about African coups with two fellow immigrants. Hope arrives in the form of new neighbors, the advance guard of a trend to gentrify the decaying D.C. neighborhood where he has a small store. But American racism, bearing eerie parallels to the violence back in Addis Ababa, rears its head and makes a "lost boy" of Sepha as much as the political upheavals in Africa did. The title comes from Dante's Inferno."Our insecurities run too deep and wide to be easily dismissed, and Judith, without knowing it, had hit that central nerve whose existence I was reluctant to admit, but that when tapped, sent a sudden shock of shame and humiliation beneath which everything else crumbled.""I couldn't believe that my father had died and I had been spared in order to carry luggage in and out of a room. There was nothing special to death anymore.""Where is the grand narrative of my life? The one I could spread out and read for signs and clues as to what to expect next. It seems to have run out, if such a thing is possible."

  • Tinea
    2019-01-07 13:26

    I was expecting a depressing, heartwrenching book about atrocities during the Ethiopian revolution, when the Communist Dergue overthrew the brutal Haile Selassie empire for an even more violent dictatorship. Instead I got something sad, slow, and altogether beautiful, about loneliness, poverty, and the problems with rich people, the ways casual ignorance hurts, leaves out, entitles. Children of the Revolution, as the book was published in Britain, isn't about Ethiopia at all. It's about gentrification and immigration in DC, USA. Its about children, reading Russian novels, the corner bodega, and survival in the long, grinding kind of way, not the short, fearful sort. Dinaw Mengestu is such an incredible writer. Lyrical. Poetic. The kind of author who makes you think "literature," but without dragging on the reader, making you feel lost in fine prose. I loved this. Read it in a day.