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Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

Next Chapter Presents ‘The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia’

Milwaukee native Mary Helen Stefaniak returns

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Independent booksellers across the country chose Mary Helen Stefaniak’s The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia as an “Indie Next” pick for the month of September. In Stefaniak’s novel, the untested schoolteacher Miss Spivey arrives in Threestep, Ga., in 1938, and brings with her tales of magic carpets, impressive camels and Arabian costumes in the tradition of the classic A Thousand and One Nights. By all accounts, Miss Spivey’s life has been unconventional for a lady of her times. She has traveled the world and seen exotic locales like Baghdad, she has resided in the desegregated North, and now life has taken her to tiny Threestep to become the teacher in the town’s one-room schoolhouse.

Told from the charming perspective of 11-year-old Gladys, this is a tale of the unorthodox Miss Spivey and the transformation that results from her arrival in the quaint southern town of Threestep. Gladys and her classmates are immediately smitten with Miss Spivey and her worldly experiences. Soon Miss Spivey is busy planning a Baghdad Bazaar for the school’s fund-raiser, which will host people from across the state. But in Depression-era Georgia, not everyone embraces Miss Spivey’s progressive spirit.

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia
sweeps readers miles and centuries away as it takes us from a segregated school in the American South to adventures on the Tigris River in a richly detailed historical journey that is filled with a cast of captivating and quirky characters, led by the spunky Miss Spivey.

Stefaniak, a Milwaukee native, is the prize-winning author of The Turk and My Mother and Self Storage and Other Stories. She teaches English and creative writing at Creighton University. Stefaniak will visit Mequon’s Next Chapter Bookshop on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. for a reading and book signing.