All Our Names

All of Our Names
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source link Unlike Isaac, who has come to the capital to be a revolutionary, the narrator wants to be a famous writer. I have so many on my body.

The narrator soon sees the utility of this willed forgetting. Walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood with a newspaper under his arm, he is attacked and beaten unconscious. Mengestu explored similar ideas about the trickiness of transforming personal experience into historical narrative in his previous novel, How to Read the Air.

But he, too, struggles with the truth; the stories he tells are lies. I thought of counting the dead, but I was too far away to do so. I tried next to describe one of the bodies, but all I could see was death.

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When that failed, I tried to describe a woman dragging what looked to be an old man through the grass, but before I knew what to write, she was gone, and then walking back, empty-handed. English and comparative-literature professor Sharon Marcus shines a light on self-promotion and stardom through the ages. Jennie Yabroff '06SOA.

Fall issue. Alternatively, how might the form of the novel help to inform us about the separateness and loneliness of the human experience? What forms does this help to reinforce? How do Isaac and the male narrator first meet? What do they share in common? What draws them together? How does their relationship evolve over the course of the novel?

Do they seem to have a traditional relationship? How can their relationship be characterized? On the bus ride to the capital at the start of the story, why does the narrator imagine the capital being nameless?

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The male narrator notes that there is a difference in the relationship that he and Isaac each has with Uganda. What are these differences and how might they explain the courses of action that the characters take as the story unravels? What meaning does this name have? What does this repetition of names reveal?

Introduction

Structurally, then, it is two stories — one about revolution in East Africa and one about interracial relationships in the States at a time when such liaisons were strongly disapproved of to put it mildly. The African chapters entitled Isaac, narrated by a friend of Isaac, deal with youth, revol This is one of those books so infused with pain and thought. Was not the landscape indistinct? When they began to tire of dreaming of the same thing over and over, one young man volunteered to dream of the whole city each night for everyone. View all 26 comments. Mengestu has received many prestigious awards. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.

Why does Isaac hang the flyer that describes the crimes against the country? What is the effect of this propaganda? The last time he sees his friend, at the conclusion of the story, what does Isaac add to this list of crimes? Upon meeting Isaac, Helen recognizes that she had several preconceptions about African people.

‘All Our Names’, by Dinaw Mengestu | Financial Times

What are some of these preconceptions and how do they change throughout the story? How do the other Midwesterners respond to Isaac?

Alternatively, how does Isaac respond to their treatment of him? Why does Helen bring Isaac to the diner she went to as a child? How are they treated there? Does this experience bring them closer or cause a rift between them?

All Our Names

What does it indicate about Isaac and about their relationship? Why does she intentionally make a mess in his absence? Where do we find this scenario changed later in the story and what does it seem to indicate about the evolution of their relationship? What does she mean by this? Consider and discuss the themes of exile, family, and the effects of history—both personal and cultural—in the book.

What does she mean? Do you agree? When Isaac was a child and afraid of the dark, hat story did his father tell him? What does Isaac suspect his father hoped it would accomplish? Where in the story do we see evidence of others dismissing reality in the hope of finding something better? Do they succeed? Evaluate setting. How does the Midwestern landscape compare to the African landscape?

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What seems to be at the root of these commonalities? Likewise, what differences are evident in the landscapes and, besides obvious geographical factors, what is responsible for these differences? There are many examples of violence in the story.

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What are some of the most surprising examples of violence and what seem to be the causes? What do the people in the book fight for? Is there ultimately any sense of justice or greater good noted in the novel or is the violence portrayed as senseless? What view of war does the author seem to present? Isaac says that there is no place in the world he has felt fully at ease. Worse, he says, is dreaming of belonging to a place that will never have you.

What does he mean by this?