Dinaw Mengestu reads tonight from his new-in-paperback debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, which recently won the Guardian’s First Book Award. The novel is set against the shifting backdrop of D.C.’s Logan Circle in full-swing gentrification and follows the life of a young Ethiopian immigrant as he struggles to reconcile his new existence with the one he left behind. Like his narrator, Mengestu immigrated to the states from Ethiopia. He was just two when he arrived in Peoria, Ill., and went on to earn degrees from Georgetown and a graduate writing program at Columbia. A critic in the Times described the novel as “a great African novel, a great Washington novel and a great American novel.” It makes sense that a non-native would have a good take on a city where short-timers rule. Tonight’s reading is free. His next reading, on Feb. 29 with Edward P. Jones at the Folger, is $15.

Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Fri., 2/8, at 7 p.m. Free. (202) 364-1919.

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