22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Meron Hadero

Portrait Meron Hadero
Meron Hadero [© privat]

Meron Hadero was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and arrived in the United States as a refugee via Germany during her childhood. She studied history and American studies at Princeton University, attended Yale Law School, and completed a master’s program in creative writing at the University of Michigan.

Her short stories have appeared in various journals and anthologies. In 2021, she became the first Ethiopian writer to receive the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for the short story »The Street Sweep«, about 18-year-old Getu, an Ethiopian street sweeper who must contend with the power dynamics of foreign aid organizations. Scarred by personal trauma and facing the threat of eviction and forced dispossession, he places a lot of hope on an invitation to a farewell party from an NGO worker: Jeff Johnson. Known as Mr. Jeff, the worker befriended Getu in an effort to keep in touch with the local population and to implement their ideas. Getu believes that Mr. Jeff’s invitation will open many doors for him. The party is set to take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, a world Getu normally has no access to. Apart from numerous business cards of other NGO employees, he receives nothing but kind words. Getu accompanies Mr. Jeff to the cab and says farewell – but Getu decides to return to the party. Getu has understood the game; now he plays it according to his own rules. The story can be read as a portrait of a young generation willing and ready to push open doors that were previously closed to them. The AKO Caine Prize jury stated that »›The Street Sweep‹ is superbly crafted, the language fluid, and weighted with colour and memorable symbolism.« »The Street Sweep« is also included in Meron Hadero’s debut collection, »A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times« [2022], a short story collection that centers on migrants, refugees, and those affected by displacement. Hadero herself says that »All the stories in this collection focus on home; the idea of it, the characters are seeking it, dreaming of it, fighting for it, creating it, and abandoning it.« The volume won the Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing in 2020. The jury stated that »With enormous power and wonderful subtlety, Meron Hadero grants us access to the inner worlds of people at moments when everything is at risk.«

The author lives in California.

Date: 2022