How to Read the Air
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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.
that seemed rarely occupied. “This is perfect. This bench will definitely do.” “We can sign the lease tomorrow,” I said. When the summer was over, Angela began her real career at her midtown law firm. She took her first paycheck and moved into her own place—the one-bedroom basement apartment that we would come to share for the next four years. Angela had never been strong on boundaries, and on the day she moved into her apartment she had an extra set of keys made for me. “You leave work
country’s first ruined forts, and if he had to, he promised himself, he would drag his wife, kicking and screaming if need be, to bask with him in the light. While my father drove lost in his thoughts of history and Nashville, my mother was missing mountains. They had always been there, holding down all four corners of the city she had been born and raised in, neither imposing nor protective but significant nonetheless. They weren’t the type of mountains that inspired awe or wonder. Uneven,
lives that fought and died in it, than I can understand my parents, who for their part always remained strangers to me. Looking at the remains of the fort—its size and scope, its proximity to the forest and to the spring that runs alongside it—I don’t think anyone who came here did so expecting or wanting to fight. Laconte’s fort is more defensive than anything else—an extra precautionary measure for a man who knew he was on hostile ground. After most of the men here were killed, a nearby
“I want to do something on modern American poetry: William Carlos Williams and a few others, but it’s been so long since I last studied them that I have to get my grounding back first.” I couldn’t stop there, however. It wasn’t enough just to say that I wanted to plan a perfect course for my students, or that I wanted to make the best impression possible on the other teachers when my syllabus was put up for review. These were only minor gains in a game in which, if I wasn’t exactly losing, I
up the dimensions just as he had once sized up the crates he had helped unload. He considered its angles and its depth and then imagined all the ways in which he could and could not move inside it. He could lean his body slightly to the side and rest his head against the wall when he needed to sleep. He could cross his legs. He could not raise his elbows above his head. My father felt the man’s hand around his neck pushing him toward the crate. His father had often done the same thing to him as