Debut novel studies Latvian family in Milwaukee

Pauls Toutonghi, an American author of Latvian and Egyptian descent, is touring the United States to promote is his debut novel, Red Weather.

He also will donate 5 percent of the royalties received from the book to the Kids First Fund, a Milwaukee-based charity that helps abandoned and abused children in Latvia.

The book tells the story of a Latvian family trying to integrate into life in Milwaukee in 1989. The story is told through the eyes of 15-year-old Yuri Balodis.

“But when Yuri falls in love with Hannah Graham—the daring and dangerous daughter of a prominent Milwaukee socialist—chaos ensues,” according to a description of the novel on Toutonghi’s Web site. “Within weeks he has joined the staff of the Socialist Worker, and his ideological betrayal will have more serious consequences than breaking his parents’ hearts.”

Toutonghi holds a master’s degree in poetry and a doctorate in English literature from Cornell University. He won a Pushcart Prize in 2000 for his short story “Regeneration,” published in The Boston Review.

The author will read from his work:

  • June 12 at 7 p.m. in Barnes and Noble, 675 6th Ave., New York. He will be introduced by Solveiga Silkalna, Latvia’s ambassador to the United Nations.
  • June 16 at 7 p.m. in Pianos Restaurant and Bar, 158 Ludlow St., New York.
  • June 26 at 7 p.m. in the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, 2262 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wis. He will be introduced by Jay Sorensen of the Kids First Fund.
  • June 27 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Bookslut Reading Series in The Hopleaf, 5148 North Clark, Chicago. He will be introduced by Sorensen.
  • July 8 in the Ilsley Library, 75 Main St., Middlebury, Vt. The time is to be announced.

For further information on the author, visit

Red Weather

Red Weather, Pauls Toutonghi’s debut novel, tells the story of a Latvian family integrating into Milwaukee in 1989.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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