Seeds Of Plenty
by Jennifer Juo
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Sylvia Soong, a young Chinese woman, finds herself in a rusty-tin roof town of West Africa, where the jungle meets the savannah and spirits cavort in baobab trees. In 1972, she marries Winston Soong, an aid worker on his way to Africa. But life in Africa is not the adventure she imagined. Instead, Sylvia spends her days in their white tiled house trapped behind compound walls. Even though she longs for companionship, it arrives in an unwelcome form. She soon discovers she is not alone: spirit children prey on her newborn's life, and when her daughter is bitten by a snake, she meets Ayo, an African-English doctor who provides a window into a world previously out of reach. While Sylvia is increasingly drawn to Ayo, Winston travels the countryside bearing miracle seeds that promise to triple harvests. Yet as he works with village farmers, he begins to wonder if the seeds do more harm than good. When a juju witch casts a spell on Winston's life, he is caught in a trap, and the forest canopy suddenly seems claustrophobic. As the country becomes increasingly violent, dangerous forces threaten all of their lives. Set against the troubled and mesmerizing landscape of Nigeria, SEEDS OF PLENTY paints a vivid portrait of a country in transformation, rooted in a magical and menacing past full of bush-souls, python-mermaid spirits, military coups, juju black magic, airport pirates, and sacred forests. Chinese and West African spiritual beliefs collide in this richly imagined story about love that crosses oceans, identity that spans continents, and well-intentioned development aid gone wrong.
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