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Nov. 4 2009 - 8:22 am | 6 views | 1 recommendation | 3 comments

Coming soon: More books from the Obama family

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 04:  Mark Okoth Ob...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Barack Obama may be the writer-in-chief, as his former publisher Steve Ross calls him, but apparently he’s not the only writer in his family.

The president’s half-brother Mark Ndesandjo has written a semi-autobiographical novel about an abusive parent. The character is based on Barack Obama Sr., Ndesandjo and Obama’s late father—the same father that the president grapples with in his memoir, Dreams from My Father.  Like Ndesandjo, the main character in his novel is the child of a Jewish-American mother who divorced his Kenyan father. According to the Associated Press:

Closely patterned on Ndesandjo’s own life, the novel depicts David, an American who leaves the U.S. corporate world after the 9/11 attacks to create a new life in China. He falls in love with a Chinese dance instructor and develops a bond with an orphan who is a gifted pianist battling a serious illness.

In the book, David also writes letters to his American mother asking for details about her failed marriage to his late abusive Kenyan father.

In one passage, Ndesandjo writes, “David easily remembered the hulking man whose breath reeked of cheap Pilsner beer who had often beaten his mother. He had long searched for good memories of his father but had found none.”

The self-publishing company Aventine Press is releasing the book, titled Nairobi to Shenzhen, today. But why now? Ndesandjo just recently came to terms with his abusive father, a fact for which he gives his brother’s election some of the credit: “I became proud of being an Obama,” he told the AP.

It seems he’s not the only one. Three of the president’s other relatives are also working on books: In January, Simon and Schuster will publish the memoir of 27-year-old George Obama, another one of the president’s half-brothers. Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng—born by the president’s mother—and Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother and Oregon State basketball coach, are also working on books.

Whether Obama’s author relatives have the president’s way with words remains to be seen. But their stories are almost sure to be interesting and to complement, in some ways, the president’s own narrative. Of course, that probably also means birthers will try to find their smoking gun in the half-siblings’ tales.


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    I am a freelance writer, editor, and Web consultant who primarily covers health, travel, and lifestyle topics. I have written for Redbook, Cooking Light, The Travel Channel, and The Writer's Chronicle, among others. I recently wrote a couple of travel guides about Houston and am the Blog Managing Editor at PsychCentral.com. Previously, I was the editor of InTheFray.org and a blog editor for Photo District News.

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