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OCJCR Book Club – February 10

February 10, 2023 | 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Register at https://tinyurl.com/OCJCRBookClub.
(Books must be purchased separately)

The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears: A Novel

by Dinaw Mengestu



Sam Kolodezh


Like the protagonist of this 2007 debut novel,  Dinaw Mengestu came to the United States from Ethiopia, fleeing with his family after the Communist Revolution in 1974, which took the life of his uncle.

Called “a great African novel, a great Washington novel and a great American novel” (The New York Times Book Review), The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears alternates between the present and the past to tell the story of a lonely Ethiopian shopkeeper in a D.C. neighborhood undergoing gentrification. “Almost every page reminds us that ‘departure’ and ‘arrival’ are deceptively decisive words” (The New York Times). Mengestu “belongs to that special group of American voices produced by global upheavals and international, if sometimes forced, migrations,” writes the Los Angeles Times. His “assured prose and haunting set pieces … are heartrending and indelible” (Publishers Weekly).

National Endowment for the Arts 

You can purchase this book now
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Dr. Sam Kolodezh is a lecturer at UCSD and NYU LA. He received his Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama from the joint program at UCI and UCSD. He specializes in cultural theory, Shakespeare, and adaptation. He is the son of Jewish Ukrainian refugees, a lover of stories across mediums, an avid traveler, and an explorer of in-betweens. As the Jewish half of a HinJew marriage, he is committed to interfaith and intercultural dialogue. He has worked as a scholar and artist in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.


Dinaw Mengestu was born in 1978 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and didn’t return there until 2006. He left with his mother and sister for the United States when he was two years old—reuniting with his father who fled during the communist revolution.

Mengestu is a Macarthur Foundation Fellow and serves as the Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University, his alma mater.

National Endowment for the Arts 

Please check out the entire Book Club Series here


OCJCR’s Book Club Series is partially funded by a grant from


February 10, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees
Jewish Federation of Orange County