Ethiopian Birr

As of January 2nd, 345 Ethiopian Birr (ETB) was the equivalent to $37.99. On that day my publisher set the price for my book and now, a month and a half later, my book is stamped with both prices on the back. The ETB price comes first and this, and the very fact it is on my book, makes me giddy each time I see it.

How many books are sold in the US with prices in ETB? This may be the first. What does it mean? To me it’s a reminder of the process, all of the irony, the work, the daily 5:30 am phone calls to Addis Ababa, through a phone card that required 18 -digits just to get to the actual Ethiopian number, back further to taxi rides across Addis, through the slaughter house, confusion intersection where no less than 12 major roads converse in some semblance of a traffic circle, past guava and bananas and Rastafarians and young boys with a different limb missing on each corner.

My books are traveling now. By sea to Addis from Dubai. Then they too will travel the Ethiopian streets. 345 ETB suddenly seems worth quite a bit.