The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Characters

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Character List

Sepha Stephanos

Sepha is the protagonist and the narrator of the book. He has immigrated from Ethiopia to Washington D.C. where he now runs an unimposing convenience store. Relatively alone, Sepha desperately searches for people who will bring meaning into his life again. He's trapped between two radically different cultures, trying to embrace America without forsaking his homeland, but his circumstances don't support this balance. He is not a successful businessman and struggles every day to get by. Still, he's a romantic at heart, trying to keep the teachings of his optimistic father alive in his heart.


Judith lives in the same neighborhood as Sepha. She is a single mother who lives right next door to him with her daughter, Naomi. Her husband and she are separated, but Judith finds herself in a difficult situation as a white woman living in the neighborhood she's in while parenting a biracial child. Before her husband entered the picture, she was a professor of U.S. political history, but she struggles to make ends meet now that she has to raise Naomi alone.


Judith's daughter is eleven. She's growing into her age, still throwing fits at times but at others engaging in advanced intellectual activities. Seeking something to occupy her free time, Naomi wanders into Sepha's store a lot, and they start reading books together. They form a friendship which is touching and meaningful to both of them because of their shared experiences of losing their fathers and living in Logan's Circle.

Joseph/Congo Joe

Joe worked with Sepha in a hotel when they both first arrived in America. He's also come from Africa. Though they no longer see each other regularly, Joe makes a point of checking in on his friend Sepha. He works in a famous restaurant. Almost obsessed with writing and reading poetry, Joe tries to elevate himself above the term "immigrant" by pursuing intellectual excellence, but he's still treated poorly by the white people around him.

Kenneth/Ken the Kenyan

Ken also worked with Joe and Sepha for a while when they first arrived in America. He is now employed as an engineer. Money isn't so much of a struggle for him as for his friends, but he finds that he is treated no different than the other immigrants because of it.

Berhane Stephanos

He is Sepha's uncle who lives in the U.S. Unlike Sepha who left voluntarily, Berhane fled from Ethiopia during military upheaval. In his homeland, he had been a successful and wealthy businessman, but now he works two jobs, moonlighting as a cab driver. He longs for Ethiopia, living in an apartment complex with fellow Ethiopians and clinging to letters from his former life.

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