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The Persia Cafe

Melany Neilson

Thomas Dunne Books

Growing up in a small Mississippi River town, Fannie Leary works at the local café, trying to hold her own in a world of slow expectations and hard boundaries. Dreaming that her cooking will be her ticket out of Persia, she cleaves to Mattie, the irrepressible black woman who runs the kitchen; to Will, the troubled, quiet boy she falls in love with; and eventually to Sheila Jones, a reclusive young girl who has returned with her mother from California to the town after her father's death. But when a young black boy suddenly disappears and the town erupts in violence, she is the only one who can piece their story together. What she uncovers is as unexpected as it is heartbreaking.

Growing up in a small Mississippi River town, Fannie Leary works at the local café, trying to hold her own in a world of slow expectations and hard boundaries. Dreaming that her cooking will be her ticket out of Persia, she cleaves to Mattie, the irrepressible black woman who runs the kitchen; to Will, the troubled, quiet boy she falls in love with; and eventually to Sheila Jones, a reclusive young girl who has returned with her mother from California to the town after her father's death. But when a young black boy suddenly disappears and the town erupts in violence, she is the only one who can piece their story together. What she uncovers is as unexpected as it is heartbreaking.

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The Wedding CakeI CAME TO COOKING EARLY on. I should better say I went fishing one Saturday, brought home a small batch of catfish, and held them up for my mother’s applause. I stood on a chair by the kitchen counter, hands yellow-gloved in cornmeal. We fried them and sat down to the table and ate. Lastly she repeated her applause over the remains of crust crumbs and devastated fish bones, for my fish to my mother, like sin to the preacher, were often doubled in size.Persia’s librarian was Mrs. Nadine Thistle, a woman in her midor late sixties when I was a child. Her library held nearly
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Melany Neilson

  • Melany Neilson grew up on a farm near Ebenezer, Mississippi. Her first book, Even Mississippi, won the Lillian Smith Award and the Mississippi Authors Award, was named Gustavas Myers Outstanding Book on Human Rights, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Florida with her husband, Fred Slabach, and her young twin sons. The Persia Café is her first novel.
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    The Persia Cafe

    Melany Neilson

    • e-Book

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    Thomas Dunne Books

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