The Making of 'The Parking Lot Attendant': Nafkote Tamirat Talks with Her Editor

Nafkote Tamirat and Caroline Zancan (Photo Credit: Melanie McLean) One of the most exciting debut novels of the spring, Nafkote Tamirat’s The Parking Lot Attendant follows an unnamed teenage girl in Boston who is drawn to the much older Ayale, a fellow Ethiopian and parking lot attendant. Expertly blending quotidian teenage frustrations with the real danger of the narrator’s unquestioning trust in Ayale’s and his package delivery scheme, Tamirat’s novel is a wonderful, auspicious debut. Tamirat talks with her editor at Henry Holt, Caroline Zancan, about the path her novel took to publication, including separating fact and fiction and cutting the opening, which takes place on a shadowy island. Zancan: One of the things that completely bowled me over about this brilliant novel you’ve written is that it has so many different things I love in a book in one compact, gut punch of a story—an intimate, haunting voice; dazzling writing; terrifyingly real, three-dimensional characters; and an epic story with a huge finish. Usually a combination of any two or three of those things can draw me in, and here we just get it all. I’m curious where it all began. I know Ayale was always the central character, […]

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