(from The New Yorker, June 9 & 16)
For a story that, in my mind’s eye, is about about two white ladies traveling to Addis Ababa to child from a poor black family, this story doesn’t dwell much on race. But the situation is clear enough, with these heart-in-the-right-place women always on the outside looking in at a confusing and corrupt system. Far more interesting than Katya, who wants a baby for whatever generic reasons anybody ever wants a baby, is the narrator Janice, who lets her mind wander out of reality to the difficult end of her life with her ailing husband. That both of their concerns remain motivating factors even as political unrest threatens the city around them is interesting, and remarkably told. There was a distinct lack of symmetry to the story, with things never quite working out neatly or simply.