Press Release

Chelsea Roberts
Media Strategist
Marketing and Communications
610-606-4666 ext. 3620

For Immediate Release
Contact: David Jwanier, media relations associate, 610-740-3790

Cedar Crest Pan-European MFA Creative Writing Instructor is MacArthur Fellow  

Allentown, Pa. (Oct. 9, 2012)—Dinaw Mengestu, a faculty member with the new Pan-European MFA in Creating Writing program at Cedar Crest College, was recently selected to receive a 2012 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as a "genius grant."

The fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are among the most prestigious in the United States, and come with a no-strings-attached $100,000 a year for five years. They are awarded in order to foster unfettered creativity in people who have already shown great achievement and promise in their field.

Mengestu was born in Ethiopia and raised and educated in the American Midwest. He received his bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and his MFA from Columbia University. Mengestu has received numerous awards and honors as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction works.

His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears—which richly depicts the stories of immigrants escaping the violence of their African homelands and remaking their lives in urban America—was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2007. His second novel, How to Read the Air, received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Mengestu’s nonfiction has appeared in Rolling Stone, Jane Magazine, Harper’s, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications, and includes articles on recent conflicts in Darfur and Uganda. Recently, Mengestu served as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Tulane University. He is currently at work on his third novel.

"This prize is richly deserved," said Fred Leebron, program director of Cedar Crest's MFA in Creative Writing, "and confirms just how important a presence Dinaw is, not only in our program, but in the global literary firmament. His work is passionate, smart, and deeply resonant."

This Master of Fine Arts degree is earned through a combination of on-line learning and on-site instruction in European cities. During three 15-day residencies, in such inspirational settings as Dublin, Barcelona, and Vienna/Bratislava, students participate in workshops, seminars, field experiences, and face-to-face classroom instruction with faculty. From September through May, students work individually with a faculty member in continual online communication, creating and receiving feedback on their work.

Mengestu is expected to begin teaching in the program during the 2013 summer residency in Barcelona. For more information about 2012 MacArthur Fellowships, click here.


Release archive