Need (Hardcover)

By William McCauley

Permanent Press (NY), 9781579621094, 160pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2005



A young development worker gets entangled in the politics of turning authority over to locals when his contract is finished and he sees his two-year project destroyed. A simple-minded black handyman worries himself into committing murder as he tries to find his white master's stolen trousers. A white accountant overrules his black colleague's authority in an unexpectedly dangerous situation, thereby precipitating the disaster they are both trying desperately to avoid. Two Peace Corps Volunteers. take a sick child from his grandmother and attempt to save his life by treating him, but they fail and must take the child's body back to his village. A white man, sick with malaria, is drawn into helping a colleague's wife report a theft to police and ends up a victim of the police. The idealism of a young white man, who is newly arrived in a remote village in which he is to live and work, is destroyed when a trusted African friend steals from him. These and other stories take one deep into a lush, hot terrain most of us will never visit--a territory characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty, where brutal behavior has become the norm; a world in which need is so great that society is dehumanized; a place where beauty abounds and food grows abundantly, and yet a place of such privation that the social fabric has come apart and murderous civil war looms on the horizon.