Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, January 4, 2013

"An Honest Exit" by Dinaw Mengestu Project 196 Ethiopia

"An Honest Exit" by Dinaw Mengestu  (2010, 18 pages)


Project 196
Country 15 of 196

Dinaw Mengestu

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago 
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cameroon
  10. Botswana
  11. Sudan
  12. Dominica 
  13. Israel
  14. Syria
  15. Ethiopia

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.   I feel this part of the project will be completed.   I also hope to publish a contemporary short story from an author from all 196 countries and I know this is a crazy idea.

If you are Ethiopian and are interested in having one of your short stories read by my readers, please contact me.

Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has a population of 92,000,000.  I found it interesting to learn it was the most populous landlocked country in the world.   Ethiopia is a multicultural and lingual country.  The majority of the population are Christians, one third Muslim.  The remaining practice a wide variety of religions.  There was once a sizable population of Jews in Ethiopia but they have almost all now migrated to Israel.  Ethiopia was not colonized by a European power until 1936, when, in an incredibly cowardly disgraceful action, the Italians attacked the country and converted it to a colony.   In 1941 when the British drove the Italians out of the country Emperor Haile Selassie re-entered Addis Ababa and returned to the throne.    Ethiopia has played an important part on the world historical stage since very ancient times.  (There is an excellent article on the history of the country here.)    

"An Honest Exit" by Dinaw Mengestu (1978, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) was first published in The New Yorker.  I read it in the anthology 20 Under 40:  Stories From the New Yorker (2010).   The story is told in the first person by a professor of English whose father fled Ethiopia for America.  The teacher is sees the irony in his teaching English literature and composition to young Americans.  He seems a decent enough teacher but his connection to his students has always been just professional.  Then one day he begins to tell his students the story of how his father left Ethiopia for Sudan and ended up years later in America.  

The old fashioned device of a story within a story is perfectly done here.  The professor's telling of this story kept his students very interested, they now saw him as a real person, not just a teacher.  I found the details of  the life of an Ethiopia refugee in Sudan and his father's eventual escape from the country totally fascinating and very edifying.   Mengestu made the father's experiences very real for his readers. 

Author Data

Dinaw Mengestu is the author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, a Los Angeles Timesbestseller and Seattle Reads pick of 2008, as well as the forthcoming novel How To Read the Air. He was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980, he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction and the recipient of a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation in 2007. He has written for Rolling Stone andHarper's, among other publications. He lives in New York City.

1 comment:

@parridhlantern said...

with this project have you thought about either contacting Granta or checking out their kindle books,, you may find stuff of interest.