Mengestu is a 2000 graduate of Georgetown College and currently teaches in the English department as the Lannan Chair of Poetics. He is the author of three critically-acclaimed novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2008), How to Read the Air (2010) and this year’s All Our Names (2014). He is also a 2012 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” given yearly by the MacArthur Foundation “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.”
All Our Names, has received glowing praise since being published earlier this year. The New York Timescalls its story of a young man from Africa who falls in love with an American woman in the 1970s American Midwest “so straightforward but at the same time so mysterious that you can’t turn the pages fast enough, and when you’re done, your first impulse is to go back to the beginning and start over.”
It is particularly fitting that a Georgetown alumnus will headline the Workshop in a year that it takes another step toward becoming a global Georgetown experience. The First Year Academic Workshop began in 1995 as a unique experience enjoyed by all Main Campus freshmen, regardless of school or area of study. The program was endowed by the Marino family in 2008, and in 2011 the library at the Georgetown University campus in Doha, Qatar began a ‘Life of the Mind’ program modeled after the Marino Workshop. Last year, for the first time, all incoming freshmen across both campuses read the same book and heard lectures by the same author.
This year, all freshmen will once again read the same book and hear from Mengestu. But in addition, the program will now include transfer students, making it the one academic experience shared by all Georgetown undergraduates. And the Library has taken the program one step further: this year, Georgetown alumni and parents in London will have the chance to engage in the conversation with a third lecture and discussion with Mengestu.
The globalizing of the Marino Workshop and the enriching conversation it fosters reflects the increasing globalization of the University and its alumni. What started as a project to engage first-year students with an international novelist has become a global experience uniting all Georgetown students, their parents and alumni.
The Marino Workshop was endowed by Frederick Marino (SLL’68) and his family in honor of his father, Joseph Marino. The Workshop is administered by the University Library and the Marino Workshop Committee of faculty, students and staff members. You can learn more about the Marino Workshop on the Library’s website.