New Internationalist

Children of the Revolution

Issue 415

by Dinaw Mengestu

Some 17 years after fleeing the revolution in Ethiopia, Sepha Stephanos spends his days running a failing convenience store in Washington DC, and his nights drinking with fellow immigrants. Their conversations dominated by the macabre joke of Africa’s conflict-ravaged independence, these are men living in the knowledge that they will never return to their homelands, left wondering if they’ll ever truly arrive in the US.

Amid a wave of neighbourhood gentrification, Judith, a white American academic with a mixed-race daughter, moves in next door. Sepha comes to learn of Judith’s scholarly critiques of her nation’s past and her personal aspirations for a new life, and is forced to reassess his detachment from his own. Equally out of their element, they tentatively start to build a shared, but impossible, dream.

This is a book that highlights how people caught in between places are denied identity, perspective and intimacy. Ultimately it asks whether, in a constantly changing world, all the labels and definitions we adopt can ever keep up.

Children of the Revolution marks the arrival of a confident, engaging voice with much to say – and a promise of better things to come.

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