- Shop for Books
- Shop For eBooks
- Gift Cards & Garb
- Stay Connected
All Our Names
From acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu, a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award, The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 award, and a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, comes an unforgettable love story about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s America and an unflinching novel about the fragmentation of lives that straddle countries and histories.
All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.
Elegiac, blazing with insights about the physical and emotional geographies that circumscribe our lives, All Our Names is a marvel of vision and tonal command. Writing within the grand tradition of Naipul, Greene, and Achebe, Mengestu gives us a political novel that is also a transfixing portrait of love and grace, of self-determination and the names we are given and the names we earn.
About the Author
Dinaw Mengestu is the award-winning author of two previous novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read the Air (2010). He is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in fiction and the recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation and a 20 Under 40 award from The New Yorker. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. He is a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant and currently lives in New York City.
Praise for All Our Names…
“Beautiful. . . . Mysterious . . . you can’t turn the pages fast enough.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Heart-rending. . . . Both invokes and channels Great Expectations—a novel, like this one, about letting go of myths we’ll never inhabit, so that we might craft new stories that free us to live.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A subtle masterpiece.” —NPR
“Deeply moving. . . . Mengestu writes . . . with poignancy and psychological precision. . . . With great lyricism and ferocity.” —The New York Times
“Taut and swift . . . with an abiding mystery driving it forward…One reads to the end . . . with a kind of desperate intensity. . . . Extraordinary.” —The Boston Globe
“Disarmingly tender. . . . Finely calibrated.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Mengestu’s voice is a finely tuned instrument. . . . Its words may be simple, but All Our Namesspeaks volumes.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Delicately drawn. . . . The emotional power of All Our Names seeps through lines that seem placid on the surface. . . . This is not an immigrant story we already know.” —The Washington Post
“Beautifully written. . . . A powerful new addition to a growing list of accomplishments for Mengestu.” —Chicago Tribune
“Powerful.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Magnificent. . . . Mengestu seamlessly weaves together a disturbing story of parallel lives and plots.” —CounterPunch
“Elegiac. . . . A mourning for what has been lost not so much by any individual, but by whole countries and even a continent, as power corrupts absolutely and leaves its citizens with two choices: Endure or escape.” —The Seattle Times
“[Mengestu] is rapidly becoming a writer on the global stage.” —The Guardian (UK)
“Mengestu is the best writer of the African diaspora we have, and this book expands upon and updates his craft.” —The New York Observer
“The story of Helen and the two Isaacs, and the ways their longings mesh or don’t, has a subtle power that gets under the surface of events to explore the complexities of human relationships.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“Mengestu grounds big ideas about an uprising in Africa in simple emotions. The story’s narrator, a student turned revolutionary, gets swept up in love as easily as he does in politics.” —Time Out New York (critics’ pick)
“The enigmatic Isaac radiates a sense of quiet purpose that makes him both substantial and immensely appealing. Mengestu’s assertion of the claims of the self against the ideologies of tribe, nation or home is all the more powerful for being expressed through paradox.” —London Review of Books
“Subtly powerful. . . . We need globe-straddlers like Mengestu to show us that love, like hate, respects no borders.” —Boris Kachka, author of Hothouse
“Extraordinary. . . . A fierce and tender examination of identity, love, disillusionment, friendship and sacrifice.” —The National Post (Toronto)
“Writing with the kind of effortless ease suggestive of much painstaking struggle, Mengestu locates the novel’s horror not in war per se, but in those seemingly born to its bidding.” —Toronto Star
“Mengestu portrays the intersection of cultures experienced by the immigrant with unsettling perception. . . . [He] evokes contrasting landscapes but focuses on his characters . . . who are all caught in a cycle of connection and disruption, engagement and abandonment, hope and disillusion.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review, “Pick of the Week”)