Spotlight: Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel on Obama’s 2019 Summer Reading List

President Barack Obama's 2019 summer reading list includes the novel "How to Read the Air” by Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu. (Photo: President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop for books at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C./by Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: August 21st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This year President Barack Obama is spending part of his summer holiday reading Dinaw Mengestu’s novel How to Read the Air.

In a recent instagram post the former U.S. President shared his current reading list.

“It’s August, so I wanted to let you know about a few books I’ve been reading this summer,” wrote Obama recommending the collected works of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison along with 10 other selections, one of which was the book entitled “How to Read the Air” by Ethiopian-American author and 2012 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Dinaw Mengestu.

“How to Read the Air” is Dinaw’s second novel published in 2010 featuring an Ethiopian American narrator, Jonas Woldemariam, as he reflects on both his own marriage as well as his parents’ immigration journey from Ethiopia to the U.S. and how they subsequently built to their lives in a new land.

Dinaw’s first novel entitled “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” was selected earlier this year by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs as part of their 2019 NEA Big Reads Program, which was likewise focused on an Ethiopian immigrant struggling to find his place in Washington D.C. while experiencing the gentrification of a neighborhood he called home.

Read more about Obama’s summer reading list and Dinaw Mengestu’s novels below:


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