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How to Read the Air

by Dinaw Mengestu

A novel of subtlety and intimacy where themes of identity and purpose dominate the life of the main character, Jonas. His Ethiopian heritage is always in the background, never quite allowing him to settle and be a part of his US surroundings. Elegant it is; action packed it is not. A book to meditate over.

Extract

And so on the afternoon that my parents arrived at Fort Laconte, while my father slowly circled the fort, stopping carefully to read the historical notices nailed to the posts in the ground, my mother would have lingered around the edges, closer to the forest than to the fort, in order to get a more complete view of the scene before her. She would have searched out a quiet place to sit, somewhere near here, along the back walls, where a few of the stones have fallen, creating what appears to be a little network of benches to sit on. A stone like this one would have been perfect for her.

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