BOOKS: Fiction
Desta and King Solomon's Coin of Magic and Fortune
Getty T. Ambau

A moving and riveting epic novel--a family saga, spanning three generations and dealing with their dark and mysterious past, set in an Ethiopian, magical mountainous countryside, in a world of monkeys, goats and spirits. Desta, a seven-year-old boy and Abraham, his middle-aged father, are on separate but parallel missions. The boy dreams of climbing one of the mountains that circle his home to touch the sky and run his fingers through the clouds. Abraham yearns to find his own long lost father. Each faces a series of obstacles and each ultimately realizes his dream, although not in the way he hoped. In the center of this sweeping novel is a 2,800-year old Solomonic gold coin, a family heirloom that went missing along with Desta's vanished grandfather forty years earlier. A symbol of the family's financial success and personal pride, this coin is one of the reasons why Abraham grew up fatherless and why his mother abandoned her farmland estate and came to settle in an isolated, mountainous valley, setting the family saga in motion

The Texture of Dreams
Fasil Yitbarek

The Texture of Dreams, a lush debut novel from an Ethiopian writer, Fasil Yitbarek, takes us on a fascinating journey with Yosef, a newly arrived immigrant, as he struggles to make sense of two sharply contrasting cultures. Set in New York City, the story revolves around the main character's odyssey inside a world quite different from the one he grew up in. It is a captivating account of Yosef's triumph and defeat, his hopes and despair, and his quest to find his place away from home while carving a career as an English teacher.

The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears
Dinaw Mengestu
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In this novel, Dinaw Mengestu tells a compelling story of immigration, loss, and gentrification set in an impoverished neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Sepha Stefanos immigrated from Ethiopia seventeen years ago, a journey that saw him fleeing Addis Ababa at age sixteen, the day after his father was taken from the family home and summarily killed.

How to Read the Air
Dinaw Mengestu

Jonas Woldemariam, is foundering in his marriage and his career as a high school English teacher, unable to throw off old habits of evasion and fabrication that were established during his traumatic childhood. Jonas's parents, Mariam and Yosef, were estranged for many years before his father's recent death. But three decades earlier, they were a promising young couple, setting out on a car trip from Peoria, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee, in search of their new identities as Americans and as husband and wife.Jonas, who was born just months after that fateful journey, leaves behind his wife and his job in New York City to retrace his parents' route through the Midwest.

What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng
Dave Eggers
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As a boy, Deng is separated from his family when the civil war in Sudan wipes out his village. He flees on foot with a group of other young boys, taking him to Ethiopia, a refugee camp in Kenya and finally to the United States, encountering danger and hardship along the way. The story is told in parallel to subsequent trials in the United States. This book is also available in Spanish under the title Que es el Que.

The Abyssinian: A Novel
Jean-Christophe Rufin

At the heart of Jean-Christophe Rufin's marvelous first novel is a bit of truth: in the year 1699, Louis XIV of France sent an embassy to the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). From this small fact Rufin has spun a mesmerizing tale of adventure, romance, and political intrigue. Available also in Spanish under the title El Abisinio.

Caucasia: A Novel
Danzy Senna

A young girl learns some difficult lessons in Danzy Senna's debut novel Caucasia. Growing up in a biracial family in 1970s Boston, Birdie has seen her family disintegrate due to the increasing racial tensions. Her father and older sister move to Brazil, where they hope to find true racial equality, while Birdie and her mother drift through the country, eventually adopting new identities and settling in a small New Hampshire town.

To Asmara
Thomas Keneally

This impassioned new work by the Australian author of Schindler's List straddles the boundary between fiction and reportage so adeptly that it almost deserves a category of its own . Several individuals journey through Ethiopia and Eritrea, encountering oppression, politics, the arid grandeur of the land and the constant struggle for survival.

The Train to Djibouti
Lara Kassa

This book has a very good storyline that takes place in a part of the world that few have every experienced. But to readers that have been there Lara capture the beauty that is felt the second you arrive. The train to Djibouti is a very interesting read to say the least. The reader will not be disappoint, this is definitely a quick read the author gives you enough but still has you yearning for more.

Cutting for Stone: A novel
Abraham Verghese

Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a devout young nun, leaves the south Indian state of Kerala in 1947 for a missionary post in Yemen. During the arduous sea voyage, she saves the life of an English doctor bound for Ethiopia, Thomas Stone, who becomes a key player in her destiny when they meet up again at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Seven years later, Sister Praise dies birthing twin boys: Shiva and Marion, the latter narrating his own and his brothers long, dramatic, biblical story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia, the life of the hospital compound in which they grow up and the love story of their adopted parents, both doctors at Missing.

Horn of Africa: A Novel
Philip Caputo

Horn of Africa is a psychological/military thrill that takes place in a fictional province of Ethiopia, Bejaya, that closely resembles Eritrea. The story is told by Charlie Gage. Gage is a burnt out journalist hanging around Cairo. He's recruited by the CIA to go along on a clandestine mission to Bejaya to assist local rebels against the Ethiopians.

Le Cantique des Cantiques de Casantchis
Tedbabe Tilahoun

(Available in French) The hero of this autobiographical narrative is the "beautiful Casantchis" de Addis Ababa, a neighborhood of fun in the Ethiopian capital, with its nightclubs and hotels. The author tells us, without hiding anything, the nightlife of girls and their customers. This book is a challenge to the hypocrisy, and a virulent condemnation, distanced by humor, cynicism and cowardice of prostitutes. Fornicators, drunkards, tenants, pimps, and beggars are crudely protraited in this colorful fresco.