Back in 2007, The New York Times called Dinaw Mengestu’s debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, “a great African novel, a great Washington novel and a great American novel.” And his second novel, How to Read the Air (available 10/14), is even better: more ambitious, more lyrical and every bit as heart-wrenching.
The novel follows Jonas, an Ethiopian-American, as he walks away from his life and wife in New York City and seeks to retrace the progress of his immigrant parents, who came from Addis Ababa to the American South. (Jonas’ father’s journey—he traveled out of Ethiopia in a crate on board a freighter—was detailed in a gripping excerpt in The New Yorker, which named Mengestu among its “20 under 40” this past summer.) The novel details both the struggles of the immigrant and the emotional reckoning faced by the next generation.
to a friend