Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

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Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016
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Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala) at HP – not Hewlett/Packard!
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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)
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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)
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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)
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Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado
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EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST: a true 1960s love story (Ecuador)
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Writer Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala) turns political
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Peace Corps writers at AWP Conference
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Jason McFarland (China) publishes ANNOUNCING THE FEAST

Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016

  Novels published in 2016 THE MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD, first presented in 1990, is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73)] who was the author of the well-reviewed novel Antonia Saw the Oryx First, and two collections of short stories, Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage: And Other Stories and African Visas: A Novella and Stories, all set in Africa. Roberta lost her life in August 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that also killed her husband, Thomas Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73), and Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas These novels have been nominated for the 2016 Award. If you know of a book that you wish to nominated — published in 2016 — and written by an RPCV or Peace Corps Staff, please let me know: jcoyneone@gmail.com The nominees: The Girl in the Glyphs: A Novel David C. Edmonds (Chile 1963-65) A Peace . . .

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Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala) at HP – not Hewlett/Packard!

  Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala 2006–08) is a freelance writer and contributor to HuffPost (nee Huffington Post). He recently posted a quick piece on Trump, the Peace Corps and soft power. You can: read Taylor’s article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-doesnt-understand-american-soft-power_us_5934a189e4b0649fff211a96 access all his HP articles at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/taylor-dibbert   and follow him on Twitter @taylordibbert.

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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bill Preston (Thailand 1977-80) A short interview was this morning on New Yorker Radio Hour with Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) talking about his new book, including some insights into his family relations, how he became a writer, his love of travel (he doesn’t mention PC directly), his anonymity in Hawaii and abroad. In case you missed it: http://www.wnyc.org/story/paul-therouxs-darkest-travel-book-set-home

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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)

Paul Theroux’s novel, The Lower River is his most direct use of his Peace Corps experience. Paul’s first three novels: Waldo, Fong and the Indians, and Girls at Play all were East Africa based, but not about the Peace Corps. Girls at Play, set at a girls’ school in western Kenya, has a ‘Peace Corps character,’ and unhappy, Midwest woman. I believe this is the first use of a ‘Peace Corps character’ in a work of fiction. (Mary-Ann Tyrone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman published in 1987, is the first novel about a Peace Corps Volunteers.) In his collection of nonfiction pieces, Sunrise with Seamonsters (1986), Paul republished a few of his essays that focused on the agency and Africa, and how he was kicked out of the Peace Corps. Theroux wrote a wonderful ‘peace corps’ short story “White Lies” first published in Playboy in 1979. I republished . . .

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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)

  Leita Kaldi Davis wrote — The Lillian Carter Award is given to Peace Corps Volunteers who enter service over the age of 50, in honor of President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, who went to India with Peace Corps in her sixties. It is also awarded to Returned PCVs who continue the third goal of Peace Corps, “bringing the world home to America.” So, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have won this award! We’ll be going to Atlanta to the Carter Center May 10 to receive the award from the hands of President Jimmy Carter. I’m so happy to share this news with you. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at . . .

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Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado

  Thanks for the ‘heads-up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • John Robert “Jack” Mueller (PCV India), who taught poetry and sailing in New Orleans before gaining prominence among the post-Beat poets in the San Francisco Bay area, died of cancer Thursday in Grand Junction, Colorado. He was 74. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, renowned poet and co-founder of the landmark City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, said, “Jack Mueller is the biggest-hearted poet I have ever known.” Mueller published six collections of poems and two books of sketches, most notably “Amor Fati” (Lithic Press, 2013). A reviewer praised his approach to “almost exclusively cosmic questions — about mortality, love and our relationship to language.” He created art wherever he went, making sketches and short poems on bar napkins, coasters and index cards, according to his brother, Gordon “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. . . .

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EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST: a true 1960s love story (Ecuador)

  Thanks  to the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • Author Philip R. Mitchell’s Everything Happens for the Best: A Cross-Cultural Romance During the Early Years of the Peace Corps is a 1960s Love Story. Recently published  Philip R. Mitchell (Ecuador 1964-66) Peace Corps memoir is the adventurous and romantic story of the author’s determination to service his country, his fateful encounter with the love of his life, and the lengths he would go to conquer the time and distance between them while he taught in Ecuador. Philip R. Mitchell’s tale details the courtship and passion of Phil and Beatriz, whose paths in life diverge for an agonizing two years before coming together once again.   • Everything Happens for the Best: A Cross-Cultural Romance During the Early Years of the Peace Corps Philip R. Mitchell (El Salvador 1964–66) Page Publishing, Inc. February 2017 $12.12 (paperback), $9.99 . . .

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Writer Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala) turns political

Contact: Mark Brazaitis Pronunciation: Braz-EYE-tis 304-276-8846 markbraz@yahoo.com www.markforwestvirginia.com   WVU English Professor Announces Candidacy for Morgantown City Council   February 6, 2017—Mark Brazaitis, a WVU English professor and the author of seven books, announced today he will run for a position on the Morgantown City Council from the sixth ward.   “We have a wonderful city,” Brazaitis said. “But we have challenges now and ahead, and we could be doing much better.”   Brazaitis is running on a campaign to protect and enhance Morgantown’s small- and medium-sized businesses, its parks, recreation areas, and green spaces, its roads and bridges, and its distinct neighborhoods, including downtown.   “We are a growing city, which presents obstacles as well as opportunities,” he said. “We must ensure that we grow in a smart, thoughtful way—a way that respects the health, safety, and prosperity of the people who live here, including families, as well as . . .

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Peace Corps writers at AWP Conference

  Crossing Borders, Spanning Genres RPCVs at the Associate Writers Program Conference presented a panel on Friday, February 10, 2017, where poets, journalists, and novelists shared their experiences as Peace Corps Volunteers. The panelists discuss how their service affected their writing, their relationship to literature, and their careers.  The panelists were: Peter Chilson (Niger 1985-87) got his MFA in creative writing from Pennsylvania State University in 1994 and teaches writing and literature at Washington State University. His essays, journalism and short stories have appeared in Foreign Policy, The American Scholar, The North American Review,  Audubon,  Ascent, Creative Nonfiction, Clackamas Literary Review, Gulf Coast, Rain City Review,  West Africa, North Dakota Quarterly and elsewhere. His reporting has been supported by a Fulbright grant and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. His work has twice appeared in the Best American Travel Writing anthology (the 2003 and 2008 issues) and other collections of creative nonfiction. Chilson’s book Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa (University . . .

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Jason McFarland (China) publishes ANNOUNCING THE FEAST

  Jason McFarland (China 2012–14) taught at Zunyi Normal College in Guizhou, Western China and while there he learned Chinese and continued his academic career with the hope of pursuing post-doctoral research in Chinese liturgy after his tour, and before he returned to the US. An avid amateur chef, he also spent his free time learning to cook Sichuan cuisine, as well as learning to play the Chinese gourd flute and also dabbling in Chinese meditation techniques. His academic research interests include liturgical-theological method for the interpretation of non-textual primary sources, liturgical ecclesiology in light of contemporary modes of belonging, the intersection of liturgical studies with ritual studies and ethnomusicology, the dialectic tradition and creativity in liturgical praxis, and the function of liminal phases in religious ritual. Jason has an extensive background in liturgical music, holding undergraduate and postgraduate music degrees. Music is also the topic of his first book: . . .

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