Obama brother emerges from quiet life in China to promote book

President Obama's half brother emerged from his usually low-key life in the Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen to promote his semi-autobiographical book, which describes their father as abusive.

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, a half-brother of US President Barack Obama, introduces his novel 'Nairobi to Shenzhen' during a pre-launch news conference held by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou Wednesday.

BEIJING – By the standards of some other presidential siblings, Mark Obama Ndesandjo – the US president’s half brother who lives in China – is a positive boon.

Normally he keeps quietly to himself in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen where he lives with his Chinese wife, practicing calligraphy and teaching piano to orphans.

On Wednesday, though, he emerged briefly to promote a semi-autobiographical book he has published which he says draws on his childhood with an abusive father – who was President Barack Obama’s father, too.

“My mother used to say of my father, he’s a brilliant man but a social failure,” Mr. Ndesandjo, who took the name of his stepfather, told reporters at a short press conference in Guangzhou.

That was pretty much the image the US president painted of his dad in his best-selling memoir “Dreams From My Father”: no scandalous revelation there. And his half brother resolutely refused to discuss politics with reporters.

Ndesandjo, who will tell outsiders no more about his job than that he is a marketing consultant, looked trim and athletic, according to journalists at the press conference. He had a crewcut, a purple bandana and a pierced ear in which he sometimes wears a diamond.

No scandal there, either. Certainly nothing to compare with Juanita Castro, the sister of Cuba's iconic Communist leader Fidel Castro, who revealed the other day that she had been on the CIA payroll in the 1960s. Nor with former President Jimmy Carter’s notoriously hard-living younger brother Billy, who became an agent of the Libyan government.

How good Ndesandjo’s novel is, however, remains to be seen; it went on sale Wednesday from Aventine Press, a self-publishing company less charitably known as a “vanity press.”

And it is in for some competition: Among other books in the works from the extended First Family are ones by another half brother, a half sister and Michelle Obama’s brother.

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