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Evel Knievel Days by Pauls Toutonghi

From the critically acclaimed author of Red Weather comes a heartwarming, witty story of immigration and belonging, false starts and new beginnings, and finding out what home truly means.

Evel Knievel Days by Pauls Toutonghi

Evel Knieval Days

Pauls Toutonghi
  • Imprint: Crown Publishers
  • On sale: July 17, 2012
  • Price: $24.00
  • Pages: 304
  • ISBN: 9780307382153
Contact: Sarah Breivogel

Praise for Evel Knievel Days:

“Superb literary effort . . . With writing both gently ironical and outright funny, the author’s extraordinary talent draws readers into the world of Butte and Cairo. Brilliantly imagined. Artfully written. Superbly entertaining.”  Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The imaginative narrative shaped by the imagery and characters of this novel provides refreshing nuance to the coming-of-age immigration tale.” —Library Journal

“Toutonghi’s wry wit combined with his lush descriptions of Egyptian cooking make for a book that reflects the complexity of its main character.” —Publishers Weekly

“A funny, heartwarming, compulsively readable novel about the unbreakable bonds of family—and baklava. This is one you shouldn’t miss. Terrific!” —Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Beautifully written, Evel Knievel Days takes readers on a wry, irresistible journey. Toutonghi has written a spellbinding novel full of heart and startling humor.” Diana Abu-Jaber, bestselling author of Birds of Paradise

“In a novel of rare warmth and depth, humor and insight, Evel Knievel Days is a tale of daredevil leaps in a young man’s search for family and love. Quirky, often hilarious, deeply touching . . . thrilling from ramp to ramp.” Alan Heathcock, author of Volt

“Evel Knievel—the great American daredevil whose spirit presides over Pauls Toutonghi’s masterful coming-of-age novel—broke his shoulder, his arm, his collarbone, several ribs, his pelvis, and more: 433 bones in all. Toutonghi takes as many risks, but what he breaks, and puts back together, is the human heart.” Ben Greenman, author of What He’s Poised to Do

“It’s the originality of Pauls Toutonghi’s voice and vision that makes this such a remarkable novel. Toutonghi is a true daredevil of a writer, and this fantastically hilarious and affecting book will have you on the edge of your seat.” Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter and The Southern Cross


Called “whipsmart and hilarious” by internationally bestselling author Darin Strauss, Pauls Toutonghi quickly commanded the attention of national media from the New York Times to NPR with his debut novel Red Weather. The Chicago Tribune lauded Toutonghi for his “engrossing” and “lyrical” portrait of first-generation LatvianAmericans coming-of-age; his “wry, cant-free story” earned him comparisons to David Sedaris in the Cleveland Plain Dealer; and Time Out New York called him “unflinching and hilarious.” With the same wit and remarkable intuition about the complexities of familial bonds and the first-generation American experience, Toutonghi takes us on another droll and insightful coming-of-age adventure in EVEL KNIEVEL DAYS (Crown Publishers; On Sale July 17, 2012; $24.00) to explore how we come to reconcile our families and our histories with ourselves.

In Red Weather, Toutonghi explored the trials and tribulations of young love when fifteen-year-old Yuri Balodis horrified his Latvian-immigrant parents by falling for the daughter of a prominent socialist. In EVEL KNIEVEL DAYS, Toutonghi takes us from the small town of Butte, Montana, to Cairo, Eygpt, as narrator Khosi Saqr embarks on a quest for his absentee Egyptian father and his roots. Toutonghi, the son of an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother, once again poignantly renders the nuances of first-generation coming-of-age with heart and with humor.

Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, and owner of a name that no one can pronounce, Khosi has never quite managed to fit in in Butte, Montana, hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town (and Khosi’s longtime love uses Butte’s annual festival, Evel Knievel Days, as a time to announce her impending marriage to someone else), Khosi takes his first daredevil risk and travels to Egypt to find his father. What he discovers in Cairo is much more startling than he’d imagined it would be. The city is a thrilling mix of contradictions—and locating his father turns out to be the easy part. Through mistaken identity, delicious food, and near tragedy, Khosi and his parents rediscover what it means to be connected to one another, to a family, and to a culture.

As told by a narrator who is all the more endearing and comically relatable for his neuroses—and coming at a moment when current affairs have made interest in Egypt particularly prevalent— EVEL KNIEVEL DAYS is a timely, fresh, and illuminative testament to discovering the true nature of what it means to belong.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: PAULS TOUTONGHI is the Pushcart Prize–winning author of the acclaimed novel Red Weather. He was born in Seattle, Washington, to an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother. His work has appeared in the New York TimesVQR,Sports IllustratedZoetropeGlimmer Train, the Harvard Review, and One Story, as well as online for Salon, The Rumpus, Bookslut, The Millions, and elsewhere. He is the father of twins and teaches at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

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