New Ploughshares Solo: “Café Deux Mondes” by Catherine Browder

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Browder-FinalWe are excited to announce the publication of the latest addition to our Ploughshares Solos series, “Café Deux Mondes”, by Catherine BrowderThe Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish longer stories and essays first in an affordable digital format, and then in our annual Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Series. For more information and some great reading material, check out our previously published Solos, or the recently released Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Volume 2. Check in every month from August to May for new reading material!

About “Café Deux Mondes”

When the Khourys and McKissicks meet to share a neighborly meal, an adventure begins. Living in the changing ethnic landscape of Kansas City, one is a family of Syrian immigrants; the other, African Americans with roots in Louisiana. What brings them together is a love of food. Along with friendship, a dream takes root between the two mothers, Miriam and Tamara—starting a new restaurant that will feature the specialties from both of their traditions: the Café Deux Mondes, or Two Worlds Cafe. Little do they know just what they are up against when they begin their venture. From the skepticism of their churches to neighborhood crime, disaster always seems to be just around the corner. Award-winning writer Catherine Browder takes a warm look at the troubles and joys of the American melting pot, and how we can grow even from our failures.

“Café Deux Mondes” is available on Kindle for $1.99.

Here’s an excerpt:

There is urgency in their decision making, with only one week left to decide. If they choose the laminated menu, Tamara suggests, it need only be one large panel, printed front and back. They aren’t a Chinese restaurant, after all, offering a trillion different dishes. Think small and then expand.

“Or we can write a list of daily specials on a chalkboard,” Tamara adds, “and place it on the counter.”

Another conundrum, thinks Miriam. As far as she’s concerned, each dish is special, but she grasps immediately the logic of Tamara’s plan. The women can prepare more of the “specials” and steer their customers in that direction. Maybe George can design the menu with his Photoshop skills… On the other hand, wouldn’t a chalkboard be enough? Tamara dismisses the suggestion.

“Everything should look professional. So people will think we know what we’re doing.”

“But we don’t,” Miriam says bravely. “We are learning as we go.”

“But the public doesn’t need to know that. They don’t want to know. TMI.”

“TMI?” Miriam asks.

“Too much information.”

“I see,” says Miriam, irritably. To appear confident when you aren’t? To delude your patrons into thinking otherwise? To open a restaurant only because you like to cook? For a brief moment her heart goes out of the enterprise. Whose idea was it anyway?

About the Author

Catherine Browder’s most recent collection, Now We Can All Go Home: Three Novellas in Homage to Chekhov, is coming soon from BkMk Press (November 2014). She is the author of two previous collections and a feuillet, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Missouri Arts Council. Her stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and won awards from American Fiction, Kansas Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Big Muddy and the Missouri Writers Guild. She has taught creative writing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is an advisory editor for New Letters literary magazine, where her book reviews frequently appear. A member of the Dramatist Guild of America, her plays have been produced regionally and in New York City. Prior to teaching creative writing, she taught English as a foreign language in Japan and Taiwan, and ESL at refugee resettlement centers and colleges in the USA. She lives with her husband in Kansas City, Missouri.