By Tony D'Souza
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151011452, 288pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
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Whiteman is an extraordinary debut novel about a maverick American relief worker deep in the West African bush. When his funding is cut off, Jack Diaz refuses to leave his post, a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast where Christians and Muslims are squaring off for war. Against a backdrop of bloody conflict and vibrant African life, Jack and his village guardian, Mamadou, learn that hate knows no color and that true heroism waits for us where we least expect it.
During lulls in the violence, Jack learns the cycles of Africa-of hunting in the rain forest, cultivating the yam, and navigating the nuances of the language; of witchcraft, storytelling, and chivalry. Despite the omnipresence of AIDS, he courts Djamilla, the stunning Peul girl; meets Mariam, his neighbor's wife, in the darkened forest when the moon is new; and desperately pursues Mazatou, the village flirt. Still, Jack spends many a night alone in his hut, longing for love in a place where his skin color excludes him.
Brimming with dangerous passions, ubiquitous genies, spirited proverbs, and the pressures of life in a time of war, Whiteman is a tale of desire, isolation, humor, action, and fear.
Tony D’Souza is the author of three novels, including the award-winning Whiteman. He has contributed to The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Outside, Salon, Granta, McSweeney’s, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Fantasy, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Sue Kaufman Prize, Florida Gold and Silver Medals for fiction, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and the NEA, Tony was nominated for a National Magazine Award for coverage of Nicaragua’s Eric Volz murder trial and spent three years in Africa with the Peace Corps.