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The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat
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The Parking Lot Attendant

by Nafkote Tamirat

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This is a very good quick read - unique and well written. ( )
  KatyBee | Aug 2, 2018 |
Here's a mysterious novel featuring the seemingly ubiquitous Ethiopian parking lot attendants of Boston, whom I've come to know and admire for their graciousness and friendly smiles. The first person narrator is born in Fall River, MA, to parents of Ethiopian backgrounds. After her mother disappears and her father distances himself from her emotionally, she falls under the spell of Ayale, a charismatic older man. Ayale never approaches her sexually or romantically, but seems to hold her intelligence in great esteem. But why, and what is he planning, and why is she delivering sealed packages for him? The outcome, an island exile foreshadowed from the opening of the novel, is difficult to comprehend and ends abruptly for possibly the worst reason. The writing here is so delicately humorous and deeply observant, and the girl is so simultaneously self-aware and naïve, that the reader feels truly charmed and horrified. In its city settings and sudden violence, it reminded me of Dennis Lehane's Gone Baby Gone. Not bad for a debut.

Quotes: "It was snowing on this April day, with Boston's usual genius for weather patterns designed to cause the greatest amount of human anguish."

"I've never understood how much money one must accrue in order to be certain that one no longer needs any more."

"We did not know if he was losing time, making time, gaining time, ignoring time, forgetting time, fearing time, keeping a sharp lookout on tine."

"Ethiopian insistence on infinite misery requires that the recipient of any favor, no matter how basic, be forever indebted to the giver of that favor."

"You think that not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?"

"I've never been the kind of person who knows anything soon enough to make a difference."

"I couldn't let go of the feeling that everything was on the brink of collapse, that I'd soon find myself smothered by the debris." ( )
  froxgirl | Jun 2, 2018 |
“Look back on the past, given what you know in the present, and you'll realize that all along, you've been inventing stories and labeling them 'history'.”

The novel opens with a father and daughter arriving on a utopian island, where a commune has taken refuge but it is clearly not a place of comfort and harmony. How this Ethiopian teenager arrived here, along with her life in Boston, in the preceding years, which includes her unusual friendship with a mysterious Ethiopian man, named Ayale, who works as a parking lot attendant, makes for a very interesting and engaging story. I recommend this book and look forward to reading more of this talented author's work. ( )
1 vote msf59 | May 27, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The book opens with the musings of a girl with no name who is living with her father in a commune on an island, also with no name. Girl and father seem unwelcome on the island. The story then flashes back to explain how the pair wound up on the island, although for me nothing was really explained adequately. I found the book, and it's point, incomprehensible.

Father (and missing mother) were Ethiopian immigrants. Their daughter was born in the United States. The 15 year old girl falls under the thrall of the charismatic Ayale, a middle aged parking lot attendant who seems to be the local focus of the Ethiopian community. Ayale gets the girl to perform errands of questionable legality. The end of the book shifts back to the island, but don't expect any sort of conclusion. Ayale may be a good guy, bad guy, messiah, con man or crazy person. I have no idea. I just know that this book was not the description of the immigrant experience that I had anticipated and I doubt that I would read this author again.

I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway but the book never arrived. Maybe the publisher was trying to do me a favor. Unfortunately, I borrowed and listened to the audiobook from the library. ( )
  fhudnell | Apr 28, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It has not escaped us that older generations must do all they can to improve the lives of future ones, but we had believed ourselves to be the future. We were under the impression that we were the owed ones. We had not counted on this debt of service.

The book begins on an unnamed sub-tropical island, where the narrator and her father are living with a cult-like group for reasons that are unclear. The novel then jumps to the central story, a less fantastic one about a teenage girl, the child of Ethiopian immigrants, who becomes drawn to an older charismatic man who manages a Boston parking lot, but who is also involved in some other stuff, stuff the girl knows nothing about.

At heart, this is a small story, of a girl figuring out her world and how she fits into it, as a second generation immigrant, as a daughter being raised by a single father, as a black girl in a school with nobody like her, as a girl growing up. The titular parking lot attendant, Ayale, is a mysterious figure and the attention he pays to the protagonist is equally inexplicable, although she is bright and interested in the world around her and he seems pleased to have someone so obviously fascinated by him without wanting any favors. The framing device of the cult living on the island is not effective, nor does it add anything to the story. Fortunately, it takes up only a few pages at each end of the novel. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Apr 12, 2018 |
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My father and I are the newest and least liked members of the colony on the island of B--.
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It has not escaped us that older generations must do all they can to improve the lives of future ones, but we had believed ourselves to be the future. We were under the impression that we were the owed ones. We had not counted on this debt of service.
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The story begins on an undisclosed island where the unnamed narrator and her father are the two newest and least liked members of a commune that has taken up residence there. Though the commune was built on utopian principles, it quickly becomes clear that life here is not as harmonious as the founders intended. After immersing us in life on the island, our young heroine takes us back to Boston to recount the events that brought her here. Though she and her father belong to a wide Ethiopian network in the city, they mostly keep to themselves, which is how her father prefers it.

This detached existence only makes Ayale’s arrival on the scene more intoxicating. The unofficial king of Boston’s Ethiopian community, Ayale is a born hustler—when he turns his attention to the narrator, she feels seen for the first time. Ostensibly a parking lot attendant, Ayale soon proves to have other projects in the works, which the narrator becomes more and more entangled in to her father’s growing dismay. By the time the scope of Ayale’s schemes—and their repercussions—become apparent, our narrator has unwittingly become complicit in something much bigger and darker than she ever imagine. from Amazon
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A mesmerizing, indelible coming-of-age story about a girl in Boston's tightly-knit Ethiopian community who falls under the spell of a charismatic hustler out to change the world A haunting story of fatherhood, national identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in America today, Nafkote Tamirat's The Parking Lot Attendant explores how who we love, the choices we make, and the places we're from combine to make us who we are. The story begins on an undisclosed island where the unnamed narrator and her father are the two newest and least liked members of a commune that has taken up residence there. Though the commune was built on utopian principles, it quickly becomes clear that life here is not as harmonious as the founders intended. After immersing us in life on the island, our young heroine takes us back to Boston to recount the events that brought her here. Though she and her father belong to a wide Ethiopian network in the city, they mostly keep to themselves, which is how her father prefers it. This detached existence only makes Ayale's arrival on the scene more intoxicating. The unofficial king of Boston's Ethiopian community, Ayale is a born hustler-when he turns his attention to the narrator, she feels seen for the first time. Ostensibly a parking lot attendant, Ayale soon proves to have other projects in the works, which the narrator becomes more and more entangled in to her father's growing dismay. By the time the scope of Ayale's schemes-and their repercussions-become apparent, our narrator has unwittingly become complicit in something much bigger and darker than she ever imagined.… (more)

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