The Civilized World: A Novel in Stories

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Henry Holt and Company, Mar 29, 2011 - Fiction - 256 pages
16 Reviews

A glorious literary debut set in Africa about five unforgettable women—two of them haunted by a shared tragedy—whose lives intersect in unexpected and sometimes explosive ways

When Adjoa leaves Ghana to find work in the Ivory Coast, she hopes that one day she'll return home to open a beauty parlor. Her dream comes true, though not before she suffers a devastating loss—one that will haunt her for years, and one that also deeply affects Janice, an American aid worker who no longer feels she has a place to call home. But the bustling Precious Brother Salon is not just the "cleanest, friendliest, and most welcoming in the city." It's also where locals catch up on their gossip; where Comfort, an imperious busybody, can complain about her American daughter-in-law, Linda; and where Adjoa can get a fresh start on life—or so she thinks, until Janice moves to Ghana and unexpectedly stumbles upon the salon.

At once deeply moving and utterly charming, The Civilized World follows five women as they face meddling mothers-in-law, unfaithful partners, and the lingering aftereffects of racism, only to learn that their cultural differences are outweighed by their common bond as women. With vibrant prose, Susi Wyss explores what it means to need forgiveness—and what it means to forgive.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PatienceFortitude - LibraryThing

I don't read nearly enough fiction from outside the U.S. There's a shift I notice, not just in the rhythms of storytelling, but in the way language plays out. The fact that I noticed it to such a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PatienceFortitude - LibraryThing

I don't read nearly enough fiction from outside the U.S. There's a shift I notice, not just in the rhythms of storytelling, but in the way language plays out. The fact that I noticed it to such a ... Read full review

Contents

Monday Born
1
Names
19
A Modern African Woman
33
The Civilized World
57
The Precious Brother Salon
77
Waiting for Solomon
101
Life Is Like a Mirror
127
Calculations of Risk
163
There Are No Accidents
193
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Susi Wyss's fiction is influenced by her twenty-year career managing women's health programs in Africa, where she lived for more than eight years. She holds a B.A. from Vassar, an M.P.H. from Boston University, and an M.A. in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. The Civilized World is her first book. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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