Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Escaping from New York, Ethiopia, Marriages, Truth, Life...a Book Club Discussion About Dinaw Mengestu's How to Read the Air
Mengestu weaves three narratives, one of Jonas's courtship and later estrangement from his wife Angela. The second is of the journey of Yosef and Mariam, the parents of Jonas, but not from Ethiopia to the United States, but from Peoria to Nashville. And then there is the saga of Yoself's escape from Ethiopia through Sudan that Jonas tells his students at the school where he teaches.
But there are clues that all of these stories, just like the ones that Jonas embellishes for the asylum center, might not be true.
Storytelling accomplishes a lot. It passes on knowledge. It creates relationships. But one thing we don't always think about is that storytelling is a balm for the truth.
For example, I think the fiercest debate was whether Yosef's story was true, false, or true with embellishment. It's my thought that there are hints throughout the narrative that the story is false.
Others disagreed, but at least in this case, I'm the one telling the story.
Townie should be coming in paperback any minute, or if you'd like to buy the hardcover from us, we're keeping it priced at 20% off until the paperback arrives.
And then on Monday, March 5, we'll discuss Karen Russell's Swamplandia. You knew it had to happen...