by Kathleen Hill
Northwestern University Press, 2001
Paper: 978-0-8101-5134-5 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-5089-8
Library of Congress Classification PS3558.I3897S74 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.54


A New York Times Notable Book for 1999
Best Fiction of 1999, the Los Angeles Times Book Review
Starred review, Publishers Weekly 
Finalist for 1998 Dublin IMPAC Literary Award

The narrator of this book is an Irish-American woman who returns to the West African country of Niger where she had lived seventeen years earlier as the wife of an academic and the mother of three young daughters. Now she is visiting her eldest daughter, Zara, who has herself returned to Africa during a season of devastating drought and is working in a village clinic that cares for women and children suffering from starvation.

Still Waters in Niger is a beautifully observed account of a return to a place at once exotic and familiar, as well as a tale of inner discovery. As the narrator reacquaints herself with her daughter and with the Africa of her past, she meets other mothers and their children. With her own memories of young motherhood strong, she becomes aware of the strikingly similar ways in which the impassioned and often difficult bonds between mothers and daughters are revealed across the divide of cultures. Hill paints a compelling portrait of a community of women grounded in kinship and care for their children, a society characterized not only by pain and exhaustion but by humor, delicacy, and strength. Filled with vivid, elegant descriptions and meditations on hunger, poverty, the desert, women, memory, and the love between mothers and daughters, Still Waters in Niger is the haunting story of a woman looking simultaneously backward and forward.

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