Still Waters in Niger by Kathleen Hill

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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 she reacquaints herself with her daughter and with the Africa of her past, the narrator meets other mothers and their children. 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 by kinship and by care for their children, a society characterized not only by pain and exhaustion but by humor, delicacy, and strength.

The narrator's journey to a place six thousand miles from home is also a solitary voyage of introspection. Visited by ancestral memories of the Irish famine, she is stirred by Muslim prayers that echo her own inherited -- but neglected -- faith. And with Zara, the daughter she had once guided, and whom she is now guided by, she encounters hunger, not only in its literal, most devastating form but in other guises as well: the hunger of memory when she and Zara return to the desert city of Zinder in search of the house where they had lived seventeen years before; and hunger for what is nearest and what is farthest away, in her encounters with a one-legged boy who befriends her and comes to represent the child she thought she had lost forever in her daughter.


About Kathleen Hill

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Kathleen Thompson Hill is a journalist and language analyst who writes a twice weekly newspaper column, was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, served on a grand jury, and chaired two municipal commissions. She earned a B.A. at the University of California, a degree from the Sorbonne, Paris, and an M.A. in political psychology from Sonoma State University.Together, the Hills have coauthored 28 books, including The Encyclopedia of Federal Agencies and Commissions, The Facts on File Dictionary of American Politics, and The Real Life Dictionary of the Law. They have taught at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and Sonoma State University, and were visiting scholars at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Published May 17, 1999 by Triquarterly. 206 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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As the narrator accompanies Zara on her rounds, meeting her daughter’s women friends, she is preoccupied with her failure to have done more to help when she lived in Zinder, where something happened that marred her relationship with her daughter.

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Publishers Weekly

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In the narrator's version, Persephone is swallowed up and Demeter left to stare at ""a field of asphodel, stupid beneath the sun,"" and listen to the ""long wink of silence."" The narrator's profound, unflashy observations about motherhood, the necessities and extravagances of survival, the effec...

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