Narrator Gladys Cailiff is 11 years old in 1938 when a new schoolteacher turns Threestep, Georgia, upside down. Miss Grace Spivey is a well-traveled young woman who believes in field trips, Arabian costumes, and reading aloud from her 10-volume set of The Thousand Nights and a Night.
The real trouble begins when she decides to revive the annual town festival as an exotic Baghdad bazaar. Miss Spivey and her project transform the lives of everyone around her: Gladys’ older brother Force (with his movie-star looks), their pregnant sister May (a gifted storyteller herself), and especially the Cailiffs’ African American neighbor, young Theo Boykin, whose creative genius becomes the key to a colorful, hidden history of the South.
Populated by unforgettable characters—including three impressive camels—The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia rides a magic carpet from a segregated schoolroom in Georgia to the banks of the Tigris—and back again—in an entrancing feat of storytelling.
Mary Helen Stefaniak is the prize-winning author of The Turk and My Mother and Self Storage and Other Stories. She lives in Omaha and Iowa City.
"A novel fairly brimming with inventive storytelling and comic brio." (Booklist)
"Stefaniak delivers a deeply engaging story.... In the tradition of Scheherazade, stories are told within stories, by many tellers, creating a nesting doll of events for the young Gladys to get to the bottom of." (Publishers Weekly)
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