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All Our Names 

By Dinaw Mengestu (Bond Street)

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This is the kind of book that makes me wonder if March is too soon to start a Best of 2014 list---it’s that good. Taking place around the early 1970s, the novel alternates between an African man and an American woman, both changed by meeting a man called Isaac. The man travels from his home to the city, he wants be a writer but instead gets swept up in an antigovernment movement. The woman is a caseworker for a man she knows little about, even as their relationship grows. Set against a backdrop of an intolerant America and a post-independence Uganda, the countries shape the novel but its heart is one of human experiences and emotion. There is unease to the characters, each filled with quiet struggle, and a sorrow to Mengestu’s writing, making All Our Names a lyrical, profound, and incredibly memorable story.

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Vol 27, No 34
January 16, 2020

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