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Dinaw Mengestu

Congrats to Dinaw Mengestu and the designer of the cover of his new book, All Our Names. The cover design made the New York Times Best Cover of 2014. This places Mengestu in fine company—with the likes of Haruki Murakami and Italo Calvino whose recent works also made the cut.

{See Complete List HERE}

A book cover is an essential part of a reader’s experience with a text. It’s important not necessarily because it illustrates what is inside a book but because it attempts to initiate an emotional connection between the book and the reader even before the book is opened. After all, the cover is typically a book’s first attempt to make a case for itself.

So as we gush over the literary strength or beauty of an author’s work, it’s good to take pause and give a shout out to the designers and artists who mediate the reader’s first encounter with a book.

Mengestu’s novel is his third and features an Ethiopian man living in a Midwestern American town while burdened by different pasts and names he can neither entirely assume nor complete leave behind.

The designer of the cover, which the NYT praises for its “emotional rawness” is Isabel Urbina Peña. She is a cover designer for Random House in New York City. Her portfolio is drop-dead impressive. Check out more of her really cool work HERE.

This news is actually quite delightful given the scandal earlier this year regarding western publishers using stock images as covers for African novels.

Congrats to Mengestu, Pena and Random House!

Dinaw-all-our-names

Credit for Alice in Wonder Land Image: Toronto Public Library Special Collections via Flickr

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. WHOSE NAME IS THIS ANYWAY? Review of Dinaw Mengestu’s All Our Names | NmadiutoUche@wordpress.com - January 27, 2015

    […] I guess I am not the only one who loved the concept as All Our Names was among the New York Times best covers of 2014. I thought about those days in elementary/primary school when teachers wrote down names of […]

  2. WHOSE NAME IS THIS ANYWAY? Review of Dinaw Mengestu’s All Our Names – Nmadiuto Uche - June 10, 2016

    […] I guess I am not the only one who loved the concept as All Our Names was among the New York Times best covers of 2014. I thought about those days in elementary/primary school when teachers wrote down names of […]

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