In 2007, Dinaw Mengestu became something of a literary star when his first novel – “The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears” – garnered him awards from the National Book Foundation, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, and other prestigious organizations.
His new book is called “How to Read the Air.” It centers on a young Ethiopian-American named Jonas. In a failed marriage, and seeking to better understand his family history, Jonas attempts to retrace the migration of his parents from eastern Africa to the American Midwest. Along the way, we see Jonas retelling and sometimes fabricating the histories of strangers, his parents, and himself.
Dinaw Mangestu talks about his new book, immigration, and whether or not the truth matters.