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The Whiteman bounds into the Ivory Coast with a deep desire to Make a Difference. But then the NGO's funding dries up and he's stranded, unable to establish a water supply for the village and with plenty of time on his hands. Taking place against the backdrop of bloody civil war, this is the story of a whiteman losing his aid-worker illusions.

About the Author

TONY D'SOUZA was born in Chicago to Indian-American parents. At 18 he rode a bicycle across Alaska, at 19 crossed India, at 20 planted grapefruit orchards in Israel, then attended college in Wisconsin and Virginia, spent a year working on fishing trawlers out of Oban and on construction sites in Fort William in Scotland, before serving three years in the Peace Corps in West Africa. He is now 30 and this is his first book.


A young American aid worker doing a three-year stint in a rural West African village works through his dislocation, cultural and otherwise, in D'Souza's promising debut. Working for Potable Water International, Jack Diaz-known to the locals by the Islamicized name Diomond? Adama as well as the wryly derisive Whiteman-details the pulsing quotidian of Tegeso, an Ivory Coast village in the neglected Muslim north, in a funny, credible first-person voice. With a civil war between Christians and Muslims looming, PWI pulls its people, but Jack stays on without funding or affiliation, working the fields and teaching about preventing AIDS. His cultural reportage is thick ("Because I didn't have a wife or children, I wasn't a real man to the Worodougou, and I took up hunting to compensate for that"), but despite stilted exchanges with locals, the real surprise of the novel is its fearless treatment of Jack's sexual relationships with local women. No matter who he's sleeping with, though, Jack knows his stay in the volatile region is temporary. When the war finally forces Jack to flee, D'Souza (no relation to political pundit Dinesh) skillfully counterpoints Jack's sojourn with his stateside existence, yielding unexpected motivations for Jack's work and his liaisons. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"'A startlingly assured debut which captures the intricacies of West African life with a dry but immensely warm humour... sensual and powerfully insightful.' Metro *****"

To read D'Souza's debut novel is to be plunged into the precarious-and authentic-existence of the foreign relief worker. American Jack Diaz is in Ivory Coast to help bring clean drinking water to the people. But in the chaos following September 11, his funding is cut, and instead he insinuates himself into village life, farming a small tract of land and romancing the local women while halfheartedly tackling AIDS education. Jack's adventures as an honored outsider are alternately amusing, sexy, moving, and, when war erupts, frightening. Presented as a series of tales with a mostly shifting cast of characters except for the wonderful Mamadou, Jack's wise best friend who has just the right proverb for every occasion, this novel reads more like a short story collection. While each story is enchanting, the impact doesn't linger, and Jack's development isn't totally satisfying. Still, he's an appealing main character, a wanderer seeking his place in the world, a man most at home in an alien landscape, a volunteer whose major project is himself. Recommended for all public libraries.-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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