Professor Mengestu’s excerpt

I had the chance to attend “Of Thee, We Write,” an event during the America from the Outside larger event. In this particular event, three writers Naomi Ayala, Dinaw Mengestu, and Abdourahman Waberi read excerpts from their respective works. Of the three I found that Professor Mengistu’s writing particularly relevant to themes within our class.
He read a passage from a book set in a stereotypical small town that did not welcome change very much. The main character was a young woman from the town that entered into a relationship with an African American male. This was an action particularly frowned upon by those around her. The scene that Professor Mengestu chose to read was when the couple decided to go to lunch at a diner in town. The girl, being the story’s narrator, said that she knew every person in the restaurant when she walked in with her friend. Even with all the stares they proceeded to sit and eat lunch. The owner even made an attempt to ask them to leave but when they refused, he settled on giving her African American friend his food on paper plates.
The reason I focus in on this scene is that it is a great representation of the time period we are studying. Change is happening through globalization that had never happened before. The world is opening up and the small town is like a country that can no longer remain secluded from the rest of the world. The eventual service that her friend received serves as a metaphor that change in this time period in inevitable. Jus like we saw in Middlemarch, a small town’s web must grow as it is opening up more and more. This small scene of a bold couple facing stubborn people in a diner has great meaning of people are reluctant to change, even if inevitable.

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