Dinaw Mengestu How to Read the Air

ISBN 13: 9781594487705

How to Read the Air

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9781594487705: How to Read the Air
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From the prizewinning international literary star: the searing and powerful story of one man's search for redemption.

Dinaw Mengestu's first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, earned the young writer comparisons to Bellow, Fitzgerald, and Naipaul, and garnered ecstatic critical praise and awards around the world for its haunting depiction of the immigrant experience. Now Mengestu enriches the themes that defined his debut with a heartbreaking literary masterwork about love, family, and the power of imagination, which confirms his reputation as one of the brightest talents of his generation.

One early September afternoon, Yosef and Mariam, young Ethiopian immigrants who have spent all but their first year of marriage apart, set off on a road trip from their new home in Peoria, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee, in search of a new identity as an American couple. Soon, their son, Jonas, will be born in Illinois. Thirty years later, Yosef has died, and Jonas needs to make sense of the volatile generational and cultural ties that have forged him. How can he envision his future without knowing what has come before? Leaving behind his marriage and job in New York, Jonas sets out to retrace his mother and father's trip and weave together a family history that will take him from the war-torn Ethiopia of his parents' youth to his life in the America of today, a story—real or invented—that holds the possibility of reconciliation and redemption.

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: Early on in How to Read the Air--the second novel from the author of the widely acclaimed debut, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears--Jonas Woldemariam and his soon-to-be wife Angela attend a party, where they tell casual, false stories about Angela's absent father and arrive, all of a sudden, at the fulcrum of this elegant and unusual novel. "To them," Angela notes, "it's all just one story told over and over. Change the dates and the names but it's the same." It's a theme that Dinaw Mengestu revisits as he selects the chapters from many different stories that converge in Jonas. Chief among them is Yosef and Mariam's story: they are Jonas's Ethiopian parents, estranged from each other in a violent, loveless marriage, each striving more for America's security than for its dreams. Mengestu takes common ideals of how we're supposed to live--ranging from the importance of material progress to the popular notion that there's nothing more American than road trips and country music--and investigates them quite beautifully in characters who are genuine and visionary and do, as Jonas notes, "persist, whether we care to or not, with all our flaws and glory." --Anne Bartholomew

About the Author:

Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and was named a “20 under 40” writer to watch by The New Yorker. Mengestu’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, Granta, and other publications. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

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ISBN 10:  1594485399 ISBN 13:  9781594485398
Publisher: Riverhead Books, 2011
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9780099521037: How to Read the Air

Vintag..., 2012
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9780224084710: How to Read the Air

Riverh..., 2010
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