Pauls Toutonghi


Pauls Toutonghi
Pauls Toutonghi was born in 1976 to an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, Zoetrope: All-Story, The Boston Review, Five Chapters, One Story, Sports Illustrated, Book Magazine, and numerous other periodicals. He received a Pushcart Prize for his short story, Regeneration, which appeared in The Boston Review in 2000, when Pauls was twenty-three.

After receiving his PhD in English Literature from Cornell University, Toutonghi moved from Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon — where he now teaches at Lewis & Clark College.

Red Weather

His first novel published in 2006, Red Weather is a story about a young man with Latvian immigrant parents — growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As Hannah Tinti (editor of One Story Magazine) says:

“In Red Weather, Pauls Toutonghi introduces a wonderful new character to the world of fiction—Rudolfs Balodis—a hero, a thief, an ex-communist, an alcoholic, a janitor, a Latvian, a singer of the blues and above all else, a father. I laughed, I cried, I ate borscht.”

Evel Knievel Days

Toutonghi's second novel, Evel Knievel Days -- which is set both in America and Cairo, Egypt -- was published by Random House in 2012.

Khosi Saqr has always felt a bit out of place in Butte, Montana — hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, owner of a name that no one can pronounce — Khosi has never quite managed to fit in. 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 like risk, and travels to Egypt to find his father — and a connection to his heritage.

What he discovers, in Cairo, is much more startling than he’d imagined it could 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 each other, to a family, and to a culture.

The timely story of a young man searching for his roots, and along the way finding his identity, Evel Knievel Days is Khosi’s charming and funny journey to learn where he came from, and who he is.