How to Read the Air
One early September afternoon, Yosef and Mariam, young Ethiopians who have spent all but their first year of marriage apart, set off on a road trip in search of an identity as an American couple. 30 years later, the couple’s son, Jonas, sets out to retrace his parent’s trip.
Dinaw Mengestu’s first novel,Children of the Revolution, earned him comparisons to Bellow, Fitzgerald and Naipaul, garnered ecstatic critical praise and won theGuardianFirst Book Award for its haunting depiction of the immigrant experience in America. Now, he enriches the themes that defined his debut in a story that captures two generations of an immigrant family.
One early September afternoon, Yosef and Mariam, young Ethiopians 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 an identity as an American couple. Thirty years later, Yosef has died, and the couple’s son, Jonas, is desperate 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 parents’ trip and, in a stunning display of imagination, weaves together a family history that takes him from the war-torn Ethiopia of his parents’ youth to a brighter vision of his own life in contemporary America, a story-real or invented-that holds the possibility of reconciliation and redemption.
A heartbreaking masterwork about love, family and the power of imagination,How to Read the Airconfirms Dinaw Mengestu’s reputation as one of the brightest talents of his generation.