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The Selfless Act of Breathing

The Selfless Act of Breathing

A Novel

by JJ Bola

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A Black teacher searches for himself across the United States in this “emotive, brave” (Daily Mail, London) story for all of us who have fantasized about escaping our daily lives and starting over.

Michael Kabongo is a British Congolese teacher living in London and living the dream: he’s beloved by his students, popular with his coworkers, and adored by his proud mother who emigrated from the Congo to the UK in search of a better life.

But when he suffers a devastating loss, his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his fathers’ violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. Longing to start over, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical “land of the free,” where he imagines everything will be better and easier.

On this transformative journey, Michael travels everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures, with the intention of living the life of his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out.

“Narrated with haunting lyricism, The Selfless Act of Breathing is an intimate journey through the darkest of human impulses to the gleaming flickers of love and radical hope” (Susan Abulhawa, author of Against the Loveless World).


ISBN-13: 9781982175573
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication DateFebruary 21, 2023
Pages: 272


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