All Our Names

Mengestu, Dinaw

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
All Our Names
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.--Publisher's description.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 038534998X
Characteristics: 255 pages ;,25 cm


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Mar 16, 2015
  • trudat rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Couldn't finish it. I'm all for books that expose me to new ideas or lives very unlike mine, but a social worker in an ill-advised romance with her newly immigrated client is just not the kind of story I have the patience for.

Jan 13, 2015
  • reedstevens rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Confusing at first. I had to Wicki up 'Kampala' which reminded me of the dreadful Idi Amin and the bloody upheavals then and now.

The heroine's character seems unlikely. Although the writing is lovely I quit when the author ambushed me. I did go back to read the end but the spell was broken.

May 21, 2014
  • mythoughts rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I loved reading this book. The writing is beautiful and the story is engaging. Will definitely be checking out other books by this author.


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