All Our Names

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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. 

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About the author

Dinaw Mengestu is the award-winning author of two 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.

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Published on
Mar 4, 2014
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Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / War & Military
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Content Protection
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Eligible for Family Library

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Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction · Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize · Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post Book World, Amazon, and more 

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From the Trade Paperback edition.
Cuenta la leyenda que en el momento de la creación, todos los seres y las cosas recibieron un nombre, y eso nos define, nos distingue frente a los demás. Tomar el nombre de otro y ponérselo como un traje prestado cambia la idea de lo que somos y hacemos.

Un joven creció en Uganda a principios de los años 70 del siglo pasado, y en la universidad de Kampala aprendió a leer a los clásicos, pero también a usar armas para luchar a favor de la libertad de África. Muy pronto la protesta se trasladó a las calles de la ciudad, y los ojos de este hombre discreto, que amaba los libros, se enfrentaron al horror.

Había que huir, dejando atrás una vida y un nombre.

Así fue cómo un buen día apareció Isaac en una pequeña ciudad del Medio Oeste americano como estudiante invitado, y Helen fue la trabajadora social encargada de enseñarle las costumbres del lugar. Con pocas palabras y muchas caricias los dos crearon un mundo propio, desafiando las convenciones, pero ¿quién era realmente Isaac?

Una espléndida novela que habla de un amor hecho de preguntas sin respuesta, de vidas que buscan raíces en la ternura y de nombres que se quedaron atrás, como si un dios cruel hubiese jugado con ellos para luego olvidarlos en un rincón cualquiera de la Historia.

«Una novela que te conmueve por una extraña combinación de lirismo y ferocidad. Todos nuestros nombres es mucho más que un libro sobre la inmigración. Lo que está en juego es la identidad del ser humano y todo lo que llamamos hogar.»
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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