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Stefaniak’s Newest Book Named Next Indie Pick

Stefaniak’s Newest Book Named Next Indie Pick

“A storyteller like Shahrazad or my sister May can leave a story in your memory as if it happened before your very eyes,” recounts young Gladys Cailiff, the 11-year-old narrator of The Cailiffs Of Baghdad, Georgia, the latest novel from Creighton University Creative Writing Professor Mary Helen Stefaniak. The same could be said of Stefaniak’s work in this big-hearted story of a Depression-era small town turned upside down by a worldly teacher.

The novel embraces nearly every traditional genre of Southern literature, from the madcap tall tale to literature of moral engagement to gothic tragedy, drawing deeply on a fascinating array of sources and influences. It unveils a frequently hidden interracial, multicultural history of the South as it plays off historical links between coastal Georgia and Islamic West Africa through the slave trade and the lives of Muslim slaves who could read and write Arabic.

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia (W. W. Norton & Company) will be available in bookstores on Sept. 6. For more information about the novel, visit

The Bookworm, located in Countryside Village at 87th and Pacific streets, will host an author reading and signing at 7 p.m on Thursday, Sept. 30.

Stefaniak's first novel, The Turk and My Mother (W. W. Norton), received the 2005 John Gardner Fiction Book Award from Binghamton University, and was recognized by the Wisconsin Library Association for Outstanding Literary Achievement. It has been translated into several languages.

Independent bookstores around the country have voted to make Stefaniak's new novel an Indie Next pick for September. It will be featured in September’s IndieBound newsletter in bookstores and online. It will also be featured, with an essay by the author, in the Sept. 8 issue of Powell's newsletter and at

IndieBound is a national network of independent booksellers. is a major online booksellers.

The book is also required reading for Creighton’s World Literature II program, the first book by a University faculty member to be used in the program.

Learn more about the story behind the novel at

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.