BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Author Dinaw Mengestu, recently featured in The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” fiction issue, will read from his latest work, How to Read the Air as the next speaker for the Walt Whitman Writers Series on Monday, Oct. 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the St. Francis College Maroney Forum for Arts, Culture & Education.
“Dinaw draws on his life as the son of Ethiopian immigrants in How to Read the Air,” said Professor Ian Maloney, who co-produces the Whitman series with fellow English Professor Athena Devlin. “His story is a quest to understand heritage and family and it speaks to the lives of so many Brooklynites. We look forward to listening to his journey.”
How to Read the Air focuses on an Ethiopian couple searching for a new identity in the United States and how decades later, their son attempts to come to terms with his past.
Mengestu’s first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, also focused on the immigrant experience. Mengestu will be the sixth speaker in the Walt Whitman Writers Series, which brings top contemporary authors to St. Francis to share their work and writing experiences with students, faculty and the entire Brooklyn community. Previous authors include Kate Christensen, Julie Orringer, Jonathan Lethem, Darcey Steinke, and Rick Moody.
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. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he also returned as a Visiting Writer, and of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction. He is the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He also reported stories for Harper’s and Jane magazine, profiling 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.