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How to Read the Airby Dinaw Mengestu
"On one 'picture-perfect fall afternoon drenched in solid light and smoothed over by sporadic pollen-filled breezes,' Yosef and Mariam Woldemariam set off on a belated honeymoon. Before they're even out of the driveway, however, it's clear this is no love-besotted road trip; trouble is brewing just under the bruised surface of their marriage." Peggy McMullen, The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)
Synopses & Reviews
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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"Mengestu (The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears) stunningly illuminates the immigrant experience across two generations. Jonas Woldemariam's parents, near strangers when they marry in violence-torn Ethiopia, spend most of the early years of their marriage separated, eventually reuniting in America, but their ensuing life together devolves into a mutual hatred that forces a contentious divorce. Three decades later, Jonas, himself moving toward a divorce, retraces his parents' fateful honeymoon road trip from Peoria, Ill., to Nashville in an attempt to understand an upbringing that turned him into a man who has 'gone numb as a tactical strategy' and become a fluent and inveterate liar--a skill that comes in handy at his job at an immigration agency, where he embellishes African immigrants' stories so that they might be granted asylum. Mengestu draws a haunting psychological portrait of recent immigrants to America, insecure and alienated, striving to fit in while mourning the loss of their cultural heritage and social status. Mengestu's precise and nuanced prose evokes characters, scenes, and emotions with an invigorating and unparalleled clarity. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The adult son of Ethiopian immigrants 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 "beautifully written"* (New York Times Book Review) novel of redemption by a prize-winning international literary star.
From the acclaimed author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears comes a heartbreaking literary masterwork about love, family, and the power of imagination.
Following the death of his father Yosef, Jonas Woldemariam feels compelled to make sense of the volatile generational and cultural ties that have forged him. Leaving behind his marriage and job in New York, he sets out to retrace his mother and father's honeymoon as young Ethiopian immigrants and weave together a family history that will take him from the war-torn country of his parents' youth to a brighter vision of his life in America today. In so doing, he crafts a story- real or invented-that holds the possibility of reconciliation and redemption.
About the Author
Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. He is the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Lannan Literary Award, and received a "5 under 35" Award from the National Book Foundation. His first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, was named a New York Times Notable Book and awarded the Guardian First Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, among numerous other honors. He lives with his wife and son in Paris.
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