One’s a Genius Grant winner and one’s a former international correspondent working at a national paper. Both grew up in Forest Park.
Novelist and non-fiction writer Dinaw Mengestu, 36, spoke at the Chicago Humanities Festival about his new book All Our Names at the Old Town School of Folk Music Wednesday night.
While he was there, he caught up with some friends from his Fenwick past.
Journalist Aamer Madhani covered the first Iraq War for the Chicago Tribune and USA Today for three years. Madhani and Mengestu grew up kids in Forest Park. Madhani is the son of Pakistani immigrants and Mengestu was born in Ethoiopia, to parents who moved to the USA. The two cemented their friendship at Fenwick High School.
“I have great memories of growing up on Marengo. You walked out the door and 800 kids came running up to play with you,” Mengestu told the Review in 2012.
Mengestu discussed his new book in a conversation with Humanities Festival Program Director Alison Cuddy, who formerly hosted the Odyssey show on WBEZ 91.5 FM.
Fenwick teachers Jerry Lordan, John Quinn and John Paulett dropped by for a reunion with Mengestu and Madhani.
Mengestu lives in New York City and teaches at the Georgetown University English Department. He won the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 2012, and has published two other books, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, and How to Read the Air.
This article has been updated to correct the number of years Aamer Madhani covered the Iraq war (three) and to correct that Dinaw Megnestu was born in Ethiopia.