Wednesday, July 31, 2013
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
How to Read the Air was reviewed as one of several recommended summer “road trip” novels, but I remember becoming interested in Dinaw Mengestu back when he was chosen by the New Yorker in 2010 as one of the 20 Under 40 authors to read. This is no ordinary road trip novel and Mengestu is an extraordinary storyteller. The book traces two trips – one taken by Ethiopian immigrants Yosef and Mariam to Nashville and one taken by their adult son, Josef who is anxious to retrace his parents’s tragic travel so that he might learn what truth it can shed on his own his own trouble marriage. Alternating between chapters set in the past and the present, the reader is gradually given a glimpse of the strife of acclimation – to a new land, a new language, a new job, a new relationship, and even the promise of a new life. Lush with contemplative passages about how to read the signs of life, I found myself wanting to take the journey of this novel slow.