Best fiction books of 2010
"He's completely American," says one man about Jonas, the Ethiopian-born hero of "How to Read the Air," an exquisite new novel by Dinaw Mengestu. "But you wouldn't necessarily guess that from just looking at him." Here is another story about how much human suffering and life can be boiled down into the so-called American dream. Thirty years after his parents came to Peoria, Ill., Jonas retraces their journey to these shores. Told in the same liquidly serene sentences he marshaled in his prize-winning debut, Mengestu's tale is a quiet devastator. It knows what has become cliché, so instead invests its power in the matter-of-fact nature of Jonas's family's migration. They did it because they had to.