Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980 he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled the communist revolution in Ethiopia two years before. A graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction, Mengestu has written for many publications. He recently reported stories for Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, and Jane magazine, where he profiled a young woman who was kidnapped and forced to become a soldier in the brutal war in Uganda, and for Rolling Stone on the tragedy in Darfur.
His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (titled Children of the Revolution in Britain), won The Guardian First Book Award in the U.K. and the Prix Femina Étranger in France, and earned him a place as one of the U.S. National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” for 2007. The novel has been translated into numerous other languages. He is also the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Lannan Fiction Fellowship in 2007. Mengestu’s second novel, How to Read the Air, was released in October 2010 and earlier that year Mengestu was selected as one of The New Yorker’s “20 under 40” writers of 2010.