A breathtaking free fall into the long-buried (and fictional) history of a utopian era in American lighter-than-air travel, as told by its death-defying, aero-acrobatic heroes.


"ELADATL is the fictitiously true history of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines told through a myriad of Brown voices. . . . Radicalized chicken farmers, clandestino dirigible pilots for el pueblo, poetas de el universe, dead Chicano lawyers, spanglish graffiti artists and pocho pirate radio broadcasters come together in this unbelievable book to tell the hidden Latinx history of Los Angeles' airspace and landscape. ELADATL is a literary milagro of the deepest kind."—Josiah Luis Alderete, City Lights Bookstore


"Foster and Romo's 'real fake dream' of the future-past history of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines is a superb and loving phantasmagoria that gobbles up real histories for breakfast and spits out the seeds. It has everything you could wish for, academic satire, crazy sculpture in the desert, sex, violence, falafel, graffiti, and zeppelin chase scenes." – Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn


In the early years of the twentieth-century, the use of airships known as dirigibles—some as large as one thousand feet long—was being promulgated in Southern California by a semi-clandestine lighter-than-air movement. Groups like the East LA Balloon Club and the Bessie Coleman Aero Club were hard at work to revolutionize travel, with an aim to literally lift oppressed people out of racism and poverty.


ELADATL tells the story of this little-known period of American air travel in a series of overlapping narratives told by key figures, accompanied by a number of historic photographs and recently discovered artifacts, with appendices provided to fill in the missing links. The story of the rise and fall of this ill-fated airship movement investigates its long-buried history, replete with heroes, villains, and moments of astonishing derring-do and terrifying disaster.


Written and presented as an "actual history of a fictional company," this surrealist, experimental novel is a tour de force of politicized fantastic fiction, a work of hybrid art-making distilled into a truly original literary form. Developed over a ten-year period of collaborations, community interventions, and staged performances, ELADATL is a hilarious send-up of academic histories, mainstream narratives, and any traditional notions of the time-space continuum.

Praise for ELADATL

"ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines is one of the wildest, most creative and deeply-cutting novels I've read in years, a genuine piece of newness in both content and form. Sesshu Foster and Arturo Romo have managed, from the mind-bending perch of alternate time and space, to construct a perfect lookout from which to view the deranged spectacle of late-capitalism America. To wade through this surreal narrative archeology—composed of everything from oral histories to inspirational posters to lunch menus—is to experience, in the finest sense, literature as fever dream."—Omar El Akkad, author of American War: A Novel

ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

Out of Stock
  • City Lights 2021

    New paperback

    312 pages