cover image Blue Taxis: Stories about Africa

Blue Taxis: Stories about Africa

Eileen Drew, Drew. Milkweed Editions, $9.95 (155pp) ISBN 978-0-915943-41-8

``I wanted to step into Africa as if into a movie; suddenly everything would speed up, on the verge of happening. . . . Instead, everything slowed down,'' says one of the many Americans central to this exceptional debut collection, winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. Drew's protagonists--teachers, children of ambassadors or of missionaries, entrepreneurs, idealists, cynics--resist what Brown ( Tender Mercies ) calls ``the Beauty That Is Africa,'' addressing instead the thorny negotiation of a rapport with the native cultures. Drew's wit and singular powers of observation are perhaps best displayed in ``Ancient Shells,'' in which a Tambalan girl fathoms her American teacher, who identifies herself as a volunteer: ``Ruzi understood then that this white was a one-year missionary without a church.'' Later, Ruzi compares the liberal to her former, missionary teacher: ``Instead of God, Miss talked about birth and death. Both women wanted to change Tambala. Miss wanted to so badly that when the girls couldn't learn, her own mind broke.'' (Oct.)