The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia

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What to expect

Narrator Gladys Cailiff is eleven 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 ten-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.

Critics Review

  • “Stefaniak delivers a deeply engaging story from the heart of 1930s-era Threestep, Georgia, that manages to include stop offs in 1775 Baghdad and 1864 Savannah along the way…Full of intrigue.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “A novel fairly brimming with inventive storytelling and comic brio.”

  • “A heartfelt, redemptive, and irresistible novel. Stefaniak knows that every story is many stories, and she handles the complex tales of romance, family, race relations, and secrets with intelligence, grace, and tenderness.”

    John Dufresne, author of Louisiana Power & Light
  • “Wonderfully engaging…a great tribute to the power of education, strong women, and the fine art of storytelling…An intricate, dazzling pattern of history and imagination and truth.”

    Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes
  • “Wonderfully seductive, one of those rare books you disappear into wholly. It’s joyous, shamelessly funny, heartbreaking, and page after page it gives you what you didn’t expect. This is a novel you’ll want to hand deliver to a friend.”

    David Long, author of The Inhabited World
  • “This novel has strong, long legs. I hope it walks forever. Besides delivering suspenseful, eloquently detailed, nonsentimental prose, it spoons out a big dose of clarity that America needs.”

    Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman

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