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Evel Knievel Daysby Pauls Toutonghi
Synopses & Reviews
From the critically-acclaimed author of Red Weather comes a heartwarming, witty story of immigration and belonging, false starts and new beginnings, and finding out what home truly means.
Khosi Saqr has always felt a bit out of place in Butte, Montana, hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, owner of a name that no one can pronounce — Khosi has never quite managed to fit in. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town (and Khosi's longtime love uses Butte's annual festival, Evel Knievel Days, as a time to announce her impending marriage to someone else), Khosi takes his first daredevil-like risk, and travels to Egypt to find his father — and a connection to his heritage.
What he discovers, in Cairo, is much more startling than he'd imagined it could be. The city is a thrilling mix of contradictions — and locating his father turns out to be the easy part. Through mistaken identity, delicious food, and near tragedy, Khosi and his parents rediscover what it means to be connected to each other, to a family, and to a culture.
The timely story of a young man searching for his roots, and along the way finding his identity, Evel Knievel Days is Khosi's charming and funny journey to learn where he came from, and who he is.
"The imaginative narrative shaped by the imagery and characters of this novel provides refreshing nuance to the coming-of-age immigration tale." Library Journal
"Toutonghi's wry wit combined with his lush descriptions of Egyptian cooking make for a book that reflects the complexity of its main character." Publishers Weekly
"Evel Knievel Days is so good, I want to dress it up in a star-spangled jumpsuit, leap it over the pyramids of Giza on a Laverda American Eagle 750cc motorcycle, and watch it stick its landing before an audience of millions in downtown Butte, Montana. A funny, heart-warming, compulsively readable novel about the unbreakable bonds of family — and baklava. This is one you shouldn't miss. Terrific!" Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
"Beautifully written, Evel Knievel Days takes readers on a wry, irresistible journey. Toutonghi has written a spell-binding novel full of heart and startling humor." Diana Abu-Jaber, bestselling author of Birds of Paradise
"In a novel of rare warmth and depth, humor and insight, Evel Knievel Days is a tale of daredevil leaps in a young man's search for family and love. Quirky, often hilarious, deeply touching, following our protagonist's journey of discovery from Montana to Egypt was like watching Knievel sail his motorcycle over great expanses — thrilling from ramp to ramp." Alan Heathcock, author of Volt
"Evel Knievel — the great American daredevil whose spirit presides over Pauls Toutonghi's masterful coming-of-age novel — broke his shoulder, his arm, his collarbone, several ribs, his pelvis, and more: 433 bones in all. Toutonghi takes as many risks, but what he breaks, and puts back together, is the human heart." Ben Greenman, author of What He's Poised to Do
"It's the originality of Pauls Toutonghi's voice and vision that makes this such a remarkable novel. Toutonghi is a true daredevil of a writer, and this fantastically hilarious and affecting book will have you on the edge of your seat." Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter and The Southern Cross
"This coming-of-age story spans the globe — from an Evel Knievel festival in Butte, Montana to the protests in Tahrir Square. Evel Knievel Days enchants the reader with its ghosts, recipes, and plucky, know-it-all hypochondriac of a narrator — and his travels in search of his father and himself." Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh
"Evel Knievel Days is a masterful, breathtaking and enchanting novel that will have you rushing to the end. Pauls Toutonghi moves subtly between Montana and Cairo to draw a deep — yet playful — story of identity and family ties." Mansoura Ez Eldin, author of Beyond Paradise
"Superb literary effort....With writing both gently ironical and outright funny, the author's extraordinary talent draws readers into the world of Butte and Cairo. More entertainingly, his characters are both believable and appealing, especially Khosi's Egyptian aunts, their drill-sergeant housekeeper and the everyday people he meets. Brilliantly imagined. Artfully written. Superbly entertaining." Kirkus, starred review
"The novel intelligently contextualizes its central theme, finding answers to Khosi's questions of identity in food, history, and family." The Portland Mercury
"Charming coming-of-age novel....Humor and heart distinguish Toutonghi's second outing (Red Weather, 2006), and the quirky, appealing Khosi is bound to enchant readers." Booklist
About the Author
Pauls Toutonghi is the Pushcart Prize winning author of the critically-acclaimed novel Red Weather. He was born in Seattle, Washington to an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother. His work has appeared in The New York Times, VQR, Sports Illustrated, Zoetrope, Glimmer Train, The Harvard Review, and One Story — as well as online for Salon, The Rumpus, Bookslut, The Millions, and elsewhere. He is the father of twins, and teaches at Lewis and Clark College, in Portland, Oregon.
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