A Wonderful Book About My Neighborhood

One of booksthe best books that I have read so far this year was a book that Martin gave me for my birthday: The Most Beatuiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu (available on Google Books here). The story is set here around Dupont Circle in DC (or rather Logan Circle which is a few blocks from here) and is about three men who all came from different parts of Africa when their were young and settled here in Washington. One of them, the narrator, develops a friendship with an American women who moves into his neighborhood with her little daughter. It is a beautiful story about a few people whose lives come to cross here in this city, but it is also about the class differences in Washington and about the gentrification of my neighborhood a few years ago (which is constantly on-going in different parts of this city). The story telling reminds me a little of that in Cannery Road, the only Steinbeck book I’ve ever read. I don’t know if Mengestu has written anything else, but he is a few years younger than I am so hopefully this is only the first of many books by him. Here is a passage that I found beautiful:

“I put my coat on quickly. How were we supposed to say goodbye now? With a hug or handshake or a quick wave like casual acquaintances? Judith settled the question by sticking her hand out. I took it, and in doing so learned what it meant to feel your heart break.”

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