A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times
$26.00

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Winner of the 2020 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, Ethiopian American author Meron Hadero's gorgeously wrought stories in A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times offer poignant, compelling narratives of those whose lives have been marked by border crossings and the risk of displacement.

Set across the U.S. and abroad, Meron Hadero's stories feature immigrants, refugees, and those on the brink of dispossession, all struggling to begin again, all fighting to belong. Moving through diverse geographies and styles, this captivating collection follows characters on the journey toward home, which they dream of, create and redefine, lose and find and make their own. Beyond migration, these stories examine themes of race, gender, class, friendship and betrayal, the despair of loss and the enduring resilience of hope.

Winner of the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, "The Street Sweep" is about an enterprising young man on the verge of losing his home in Addis Ababa who pursues an improbable opportunity to turn his life around. Appearing in Best American Short Stories, "The Suitcase" follows a woman visiting her country of origin for the first time and finds that an ordinary object opens up an unexpected, complex bridge between worlds. Shortlisted for the 2019 Caine Prize, "The Wall" portrays the intergenerational friendship between two refugees living in Iowa who have connections to Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. A Best American Short Stories notable, "Mekonnen aka Mack aka Huey Freakin' Newton" is a coming-of-age tale about an Ethiopian immigrant in Brooklyn encountering nuances of race in his new country.

Kaleidoscopic, powerful, and illuminative, the stories in A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times expand our understanding of the essential and universal need for connection and the vital refuge of home--and announce a major new talent in Meron Hadero.

"Witty and wistful, complex and heartbreaking, these stories capture lives caught between cultures and continents, past and present, truth and lies. As its displaced characters seek belonging, this collection explores the challenges of connection with empathy and nuance. A thrilling debut."

--Brit Bennett, bestselling author of The Vanishing Half and The Mothers

"This book heralds the arrival of a gifted, stunning writer. A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times held me spellbound, riveted to the compelling characters that walk through these pages, all of them guided by Meron's revelatory and generous examinations of belonging and displacement. These stories unfold with an intensifying power, each of them a testament to what's possible when we move through this world insisting on the potential of hope, and love."

--Maaza Mengiste, author of Booker Prize finalist The Shadow King

Meron Hadero's collection, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times brims with lives on the margins, collisions that do not fully happen, redemptions thwarted at the last minute. Yet, it is through these moments that the vastness of the modern lives of immigrants (or the transposed) are examined and fully revealed. This style, which time and time again comes off the page as truly effortless, is what makes Hadero a new master of the form, and this collection a masterful one.

--Chigozie Obioma, author of Booker Prize finalists An Orchestra of Minorities and The Fishermen

"Intricate and precise, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times casts a glimmering light into the most elusive corners of estrangement which all migrants--torn between past and present, home and journey--come to know. To say that Hadero's style is discreet would be inaccurate; these stories lull, then rip you open. A powerful, unforgettable collection."

--Ingrid Rojas Contreras, bestselling author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree

"Meron Hadero's dazzling short stories span the diaspora, poignantly portraying characters in search of opportunity and belonging. Rich with insight, compassion, and wit, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times is an unforgettable debut."

--Vanessa Hua, bestselling author of A River of Stars and Forbidden City

"With enormous power and wonderful subtlety, Meron Hadero grants us access to the inner worlds of people at moments when everything is at risk. In the stories that make up A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times, the emotional stakes are high.... Hadero's characters are usually out of place, struggling to move backward or forward to a place that resembles home.... That closeness to the edge--of safety, of the known and being known--will resonate with all of us whose lives have been marked by border-crossings, whether by choice or, more likely, because of complex political and environmental forces far beyond our control. As we enter a future that will be shaped more and more profoundly by such border crossings, these sharp, humane, beautiful portraits are a gift."

--Dinaw Mengestu, Achy Obejas, and Ilan Stavans, from the judges' citation

"In her debut story collection, Addis Ababa-born Hadero addresses Ethiopian Americans' struggles for acceptance, the painful ties between present and past, and the elusive meaning of home.... Hadero sets a tone of dizzying displacement from the start.... A full range of stylistic approaches is on display in these stories.... Hadero's writing derives great power from her nuanced references to Ethiopia's anguished history, including the atrocities of the Derg military junta. As one character says, survival is about 'letting that past move through you and move with you and move you so that it's you deciding for yourself what you're worth.' Entertaining and affecting stories with a deft lightness of touch."

--Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"In this impressive debut collection, award-winning Ethiopian American writer Hadero showcases the lives of displaced people trying to create a space for themselves to call home in America and Ethiopia.... Hadero's powerful stories usher characters along their searches for belonging, often with nothing but hope and a sense of community pushing them forward."

--Emily Park, Booklist, Starred Review

"Ethiopian-American writer Hadero delivers in her illuminating debut collection a series of nuanced perspectives on immigration.... Hadero excels at creating small moments with high stakes such as these, investigating the minefield of interrelations and frictions her characters face amid competing cultural imperatives.... Throughout, Hadero achingly shows how her characters attempt to communicate their regrets, sorrows, and dreams. This assured debut is well worth a look."

--Publishers Weekly

"Hadero's characters face challenges including racism, crushing misunderstandings, and visits home that remind them of how much they no longer belong, if they ever did....Despite their difficult circumstances, though, these characters find comfort in places like a single friend and a home-cooked meal. Their experiences may be unique, but their desires to live in peace and happiness are universal. A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times is a heartfelt collection about the highs, lows, and ordinary of Ethiopian life."

--Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

Meron Hadero's A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times is an astonishing debut....If the danger faced by those who live on the anxious edge of societies, whether in Ethiopia or Germany or the United States, is not always--or even often--recognized, Hadero suggests, the signs are present long before they're understood. In A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times, she has crafted a profound collection that identifies this sensibility while also, in its overflow of stories, signaling the hope of a teller that a good listener will be ready to receive them."

-- Anita Felicelli, Alta Journal

This richly detailed, subtly impressionistic short-story collection―by the first Ethiopian-born writer to win the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing―pulls at threads of geography, language, generation, race, and gender. Hadero's page shines...expanding instead of narrowing the range and representation of immigrant experiences.

-- Daniel King, Mother Jones

ISBN: 
9781632061188
Author: 
Publisher: 
Binding: 
Hardcover
Publication Date: 
June 28, 2022