It was announced today that Peter Hessler (China 1996-98)–who lives now in a small town in Colorado– is one of 22 recipients of the $500,000 ‘genius awards’  given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is one of 12 men and 10 women selected this year. The MacArthur award, which has been bestowed on 850 people since the program began in 1981, comes to five annual payments of $100,000.

According to Robert Gallucci, the president of the MacArthur Foundation, “Fellows are selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future.”

Peter was given the award for his writings about China, the subject of his first three books. His first book, the memoir River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze is about his Peace Corps tour. It is believed that Peter is the first RPCV to win this lucrative and prestigious award. Next month, Peter, his wife, who is also a writer, and their new twins leave the U.S. and move to Egypt where he’ll be observing the Arab fall, winter and the coming spring.

Congratulations, Peter!