Pauls Toutonghi : Evel Knievel Days (Excerpt)

Evel Knievel Days (Excerpt)

Formats Available

PDF 528 KB


Humor, Fiction & Literature

For Readers Of

Michael Ondaatje, Colum McCann, Salman Rushdie, Anne Michaels, Margaret Atwood

Buy Books

Connect with the Author


Print Length





Crown/Random House

Publication Date

July 17, 2012



About the Book    About the Author

**For a limited time you can click through to Audible and download a free copy of the EVEL KNIEVEL DAYS audio book: **

Raised by a single mother in the American West, Khosi Saqr never knew his dad -- a charismatic Egyptian-national with a gambling problem and a sprawling Christian-Muslim family.

When a crisis in Khosi's life makes him wonder more about his own identity, Khosi decides to travel to Egypt and find his father -- risking a trip that goes against all of his deepest instincts.

What he discovers, in Cairo, is much more startling than he'd imagined it could be.

Editorial Reviews

“[An] original comedy about the dejected American male…Toutonghi has a light touch that can dart between slapstick and deadpan humor…A story about discovering your roots, forgiving your parents and eating
great food…Toutonghi wins us over with lots of madcap family hysteria as the
ridiculous lies from Khosi’s father are spun and unspun.” –Washington Post, Ron Charles

“Butte, Montana and Cairo. That's a lot of territory to embrace in one book, but Pauls Toutonghi has a large wingspan as a writer… From the streets of poor neighborhoods to the racetracks of the rich and the criminal, from restaurants - there's a wonderful Middle Eastern culinary thread
you can follow through this novel - to hidden courtyards and apartments to
hospitals, we travel with him as he tells - in a breezy, cheerful, but always
intelligent voice - the story of his daunting quest to reconnect with his
father. And with that voice, Khosi speaks for himself and for millions - for
everyone trying to put together the pieces of a broken family. At one point,
Khosi quotes the great food writer, M.F.K. Fisher, who said that the smell of
good bread baking is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.
Can we make an analogy between that sense of delight and reading this novel? I
think so.” –NPR’s All Things Considered, Alan Cheuse

"Told with an addictive voice and bulges with fully realized characters." –New York Times

"An impossible spectacle, involving ridiculous characters doing outrageous, sometimes unbelievable things, one that succeeds
by the skin of its teeth, and is all the more exhilarating for having braved
it." –San Francisco Chronicle

“Big-hearted…fun without being lightweight, and the writing is a page-for-page pleasure…At its heart, this is a story about love’s messier
triumphs, the ones we don’t plan for. It’s a celebration of the simple fact
that love exists and that we have the capacity to experience it, even if only
for a time.” –Los Angeles Review of Books

“Precious without being maudlin, the novel tackles the
themes of romantic love, familial love and love of food with deftness and
humor...Filling out his narrative with musings on philosophy and society,
Toutonghi has composed an understated fictional autobiography that is both
introspective and absorbing…a quiet evocation of displacement and belonging,
America and the Middle East, walking onions and the mythical complexities of
making baklava. It's an affectingly simple and simply effective comedic
melodrama in nearly every way.” –Missoula

“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. More entertainingly, his characters are both
believable and appealing, especially Khosi’s Egyptian aunts, their
drill-sergeant housekeeper and the everyday people he meets. Brilliantly
imagined. Artfully written. Superbly entertaining.” –Kirkus, starred review

"A generous and generally comic novel." –Seattle Weekly

“A witty and uplifting story about a young man trying to
reconnect with his father. . . The search for the truth is rarely easy, but
Toutonghi uses a little magic, humor and homeopathic remedies to find it.” –The Montana Standard

"Funny and winsome...quirky and heartfelt novel."
High Country News

“The novel intelligently contextualizes its central theme,
finding answers to Khosi's questions of identity in food, history, and family.”
The Portland Mercury

"Enthralling right up until the last page of the final
chapter." –Silver State Post

“Although it is very funny, Evel Knievel Days is not a comic novel. It is a romance in pretty
much the same sense that The Tempest is a romance: strange events crowd out
natural events, not because the setting is a magical realm, but because reality
becomes magical and strange when it is no longer conventional and familiar.” –Commentary Magazine

“Toutonghi manages to hold all this mayhem together with wit
and compassion; in the end, Khosi recognizes that ‘inhabiting a place doesn't
require being in that place,’ and that ‘an overflowing platter of falafel’ can
be ‘a special peace envoy.’… A slightly madcap novel of a Montana immigrant's
son traveling to the streets of Cairo to find the father who abandoned him.” –Shelf Awareness, Bruce Jacobs

“Who am I? This is the question bedeviling the
half-Egyptian, half-American, wholly screwy twenty-something hero of Pauls
Toutonghi’s highly entertaining novel, Evel
Knievel Days.” –Vanity Fair

“There is plenty of metaphorical magic in the book.”–Oregon Public Radio

“Khosi seeks his father and the other half of his own
heritage in Cairo, Egypt. Coming from a privileged background — even if that
privilege was a generation removed — Khosi confronts chaos, lies, secrets,
poverty and a revolution in his own life and in Egypt, too.” –Great Falls Tribune

“Winning…This novel succeeds largely on the strength of its
protagonist who is complex and charming and you cannot help but root for him.”
The Rumpus, Roxane Gay

“Charming coming-of-age novel…Humor and heart distinguish
Toutonghi’s second outing (Red Weather, 2006), and the quirky, appealing Khosi
is bound to enchant readers.” –Booklist

“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

Evel Knievel Days
is so good, I want to dress it up in a star-spangled jumpsuit, leap it over the
pyramids of Giza on a Laverda American Eagle 750cc motorcycle, and watch it
stick its landing before an audience of millions in downtown Butte,
Montana. A funny, heart-warming,
compulsively readable novel about the unbreakable bonds of family — and baklava.
This is one you shouldn't miss.
Terrific!”—Garth Stein, New York
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 spell-binding 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, following our protagonist's journey of discovery
from Montana to Egypt was like watching Knievel sail his motorcycle over great
expanses — 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

“Terrific.” –Cheryl
Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild

"This coming-of-age story spans the globe — from an
Evel Knievel festival in Butte, Montana to the protests in Tahrir Square. Evel Knievel Days enchants the reader
with its ghosts, recipes, and plucky, know-it-all hypochondriac of a narrator —
and his travels in search of his father and himself." —Benjamin Percy,
author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

"Evel Knievel
is a masterful, breathtaking and enchanting novel that will have you
rushing to the end. Pauls Toutonghi moves subtly between Montana and Cairo to
draw a deep—yet playful—story of identity and family ties." —Mansoura Ez Eldin, author of Beyond Paradise

More From this Author


More From this Author