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Dinaw Mengestu in conversation with Eirinie Carson

August 8 @ 6:00 pm

Dinaw Mengestu in conversation with Eirinie Carson

City Lights and Alfred A Knopf celebrate the publication of

Someone Like Us: A novel

By Dinaw Mengestu

Published by Alfred A Knopf

The son of Ethiopian immigrants seeks to understand a hidden family history and uncovers a past colored by unexpected loss, addiction, and the enduring emotional pull toward home.

After abandoning his once-promising career as a journalist in search of a new life in Paris, Mamush meets Hannah—a photographer whose way of seeing the world shows him the possibility of finding not only love but family. Now, five years later, with his marriage to Hannah on the verge of collapse, he returns to the close-knit immigrant Ethiopian community of Washington, DC, that defined his childhood. At its center is Mamush’s stoic, implacable mother, and Samuel, the larger-than-life father figure whose ceaseless charm and humor have always served as a cover for a harder, more troubling truth. But on the same day that Mamush arrives home in Washington, Samuel is found dead in his garage.

With Hannah and their two-year-old son back in Paris, Mamush sets out on an unexpected journey across America in search of answers to questions he’d been told never to ask. As he does so, he begins to understand that perhaps the only chance he has of saving his family and making it back home is to confront not only the unresolved mystery around Samuel’s life and death, but his own troubled memories, and the years spent masking them. Breathtaking, commanding, unforgettable work from one of America’s most prodigiously gifted novelists.

Dinaw Mengestu is the author of three novels, all of which were named New York Times Notable Books: All Our Names, How to Read the Air, and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. A native of Ethiopia who came with his family to the United States at the age of two, Mengestu is also a freelance journalist who has reported about life in Darfur, northern Uganda, and eastern Congo. His articles and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Jane, and Rolling Stone. He is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow and recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Prize, Guardian First Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, among other honors. He was also included in The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 list in 2010.

Eirinie Carson is a Black British Londoner and writer living in California. She is a mother of two children, Luka and Selah. A member of the Writers Grotto in San Francisco, Eirinie is a frequent contributor to Mother magazine, and her work has also appeared in Electric Literature, LitHub, The Sonora Review and others. Eirinie contributes to her local paper, The Argus Courier, via her column, Eirinie Asks. She mostly writes about motherhood, grief and relationships and the release of her first book, The Dead Are Gods (Melville House, 2023) was a critically acclaimed Spring release, with Oprah Daily, Shondaland, People Magazine and the Washington Post sharing rave reviews on their platforms. Eirinie’s second book, Bloodfire, Baby, a maternal gothic novel that challenges the type of mothers we wish to be versus the ones we actually are, sold at auction in 2024 to Dutton at Penguin Random House.

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.