Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1978. In 1980, he, his mother, and his sister immigrated to the United States to join his father, who fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror. He graduated from Georgetown University and Columbia University's MFA program in fiction. He is the author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air. He has also written for several publications including Rolling Stone and Harper's.