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Download The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel Audiobook, by Mary Helen Stefaniak Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (289 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary Helen Stefaniak Narrator: Robynn Rodriguez Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781470800307
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Narrator Gladys Cailiff is eleven years old in 1938 when a new schoolteacher turns Threestep, Georgia, upside down. Miss Grace Spivey is a well-traveled young woman who believes in field trips, Arabian costumes, and reading aloud from her ten-volume set of The Thousand Nights and a Night. The real trouble begins when she decides to revive the annual town festival as an exotic Baghdad bazaar. Miss Spivey and her project transform the lives of everyone around her: Gladys’ older brother Force (with his movie-star looks), their pregnant sister May (a gifted storyteller herself), and especially the Cailiffs’ African American neighbor, young Theo Boykin, whose creative genius becomes the key to a colorful, hidden history of the South.

Populated by unforgettable characters—including three impressive camels—The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia rides a magic carpet from a segregated schoolroom in Georgia to the banks of the Tigris—and back again—in an entrancing feat of storytelling.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Stefaniak delivers a deeply engaging story from the heart of 1930s-era Threestep, Georgia, that manages to include stop offs in 1775 Baghdad and 1864 Savannah along the way…Full of intrigue.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A novel fairly brimming with inventive storytelling and comic brio.”


  • “A heartfelt, redemptive, and irresistible novel. Stefaniak knows that every story is many stories, and she handles the complex tales of romance, family, race relations, and secrets with intelligence, grace, and tenderness.”

    John Dufresne, author of Louisiana Power & Light

  • “Wonderfully engaging…a great tribute to the power of education, strong women, and the fine art of storytelling…An intricate, dazzling pattern of history and imagination and truth.”

    Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes

  • “Wonderfully seductive, one of those rare books you disappear into wholly. It’s joyous, shamelessly funny, heartbreaking, and page after page it gives you what you didn’t expect. This is a novel you’ll want to hand deliver to a friend.”

    David Long, author of The Inhabited World

  • “This novel has strong, long legs. I hope it walks forever. Besides delivering suspenseful, eloquently detailed, nonsentimental prose, it spoons out a big dose of clarity that America needs.”

    Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman

  • “Mary Helen Stefaniak is a born storyteller, with a fantastic gift for mingling the exotic and the ordinary, the comic and the heartrending. Her tale of drastic change coming to a small Southern town in the 1930s is filled with wild incidents, vivid characters, and a surprise at every turn—a delight to read.”

    Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books

  • “Stefaniak sets the stage for likable narrator Gladys Cailiff, a smart, witty, and incisive eleven-year-old.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for Fiction
  • Selected for the September 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 2/11/2014

    " Absolutly clever and wonderful. Twists and turns and story in a story, in a story. Amazing. I'd teach it in a moment - if I were still in the classroom. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dora | 2/10/2014

    " The story was intriguing, and the young Gladys had a wonderful narrative voice, but there were several issues that prevented me from falling completely into the book. There were a few too many bunny trails, a dramatic and oddly imagined mid book twist, and a small list of narrative details that didn't make sense to the flow of the novel. Decent, but not a book I would recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 1/30/2014

    " Gladys Cailiff is 11 and narrates the story about an eccentric new teacher coming to her small town. Threestep Georgia in 1939 is still farms, small groceries stores, and the KKK. Ms. Spivey the new teacher brings tales from Arabia and costumes and plans that change the lives of the children and the town. I liked the Gladys story with her brother Force, sister May, Theo Boykin and, of course, the new teacher Ms. Spivey. But there may have been 1 too many other stories. The book has stories inside of stories inside of stories inside of stories etc etc. The have a purpose - there just were too many for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Luann Dillon | 1/23/2014

    " Set in 1938 small town Georgia, the narrator, 11 year old Gladys, tells the story of when 29 year old Grace Spivey comes to be the new teacher with radical ideas. She talks the town into tranforming the downtown into Bagdad for one night and perform Alladin's Lamp. Camels enter into the plot as well as tales of ancient Bagdad. Racism, sexism and fear are all part of this small town. Characters are interesting people, plot is funny and sad at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mariana | 1/12/2014

    " Story telling is at its best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracey Westgate | 1/10/2014

    " I enjoyed the first half; the second half was hard to get through and didn't seem very relevant. I was disappointed with the ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lyn | 12/9/2013

    " Another one that I got into and was really happy with, and then at the end (yet again), it went completely off the rails. Although I persevered, I do have to say I was somewhat disappointed. Sad, huh? I hate that when it happens! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynne | 12/8/2013

    " Hmm, my review disappeared. I expected light and fun reading but what I got was poor writing. There were many problems including a long digression, too heavy foreshadowing and stereotypical characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicki | 12/4/2013

    " I really got lost in the characters, but I kept thinking it was ending, so it got a little old. I was also pretty put out by some "dog poop" that was tucked in. Didn't need the details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 12/1/2013

    " Put me in mind of "Fried Green Tomatoes" and Joshilyn Jackson books. A bit melancholy at times, but filled with memorable characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christi | 11/3/2013

    " Liked the story until the author went into an endless diversion of a substory that I had trouble figuring out the relevance of... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paula | 8/20/2013

    " Mostly I liked this book, although at times it bogged down and I would put it down and then I would end up picking it up again. It took me awhile to get it read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 1/31/2013

    " I made it through twelve chapters, but could not bring myself to finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 8/26/2012

    " This was really good until the author threw a bucket of cold water on it by making up her own Arabian Nights tales toward the end, which I ended skipping through since I couldn't see the relevance. I would have rated this book higher if it weren't for that. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 4/13/2012

    " Absolutely adored this book. The characters, the setting, the plot really worked for me! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Krista | 12/16/2011

    " More like a 3.5. I think it was extra interesting to me since I spent a number of years in Georgia, and could sense some of the tensions and so forth illustrated in this novel. Even for non southerners though, it's an engaging story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon | 10/26/2011

    " It took almost to the end of the book to really get interesting...I like a book you cant put down.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sylvia Nickersosn | 10/15/2011

    " good book for someone born in rural south-GA "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 3/18/2011

    " Love southern historical fiction! Didn't love ending and side stories, but still give it 4 stars! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroline | 12/9/2010

    " I really wanted to like this book more. And I may have if I read it in one swoop but I felt that it peetered way out at the end. The author seemed to have 2 stories but was trying to cram it in all one story. Plots were forced and the characters became cliches. "

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About the Author
Author Mary Helen Stefaniak

Mary Helen Stefaniak is the prizewinning author of The Turk and My Mother and Self Storage and Other Stories. She lives in Omaha and Iowa City.

About the Narrator

Robynn Rodriguez is a longtime member of the resident acting company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In addition to her work at OSF, she has worked in theaters all over the United States and Europe. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, with her husband, Michael.