Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

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STORIES MAKE THE WORLD by Stephen Most (Peru)
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“What Are You?” They Ask My Son by Michael Meyer (China)
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WRITING ABROAD by Peter Chilson (Niger) published by University of Chicago Press
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New book on Bobby Kennedy by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)
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Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October
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Make Love Not War . . . Will Siegel (Ethiopia) writes Haight Ashbury novel
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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)

STORIES MAKE THE WORLD by Stephen Most (Peru)

  Stories Make the World: Reflections on Storytelling and the Art of the Documentary by Stephen Most (Peru 1965-67) Berghalin Books 288 pages June, 2017 $34.95 (paperback), $150.00 (hardcover) • Since the beginning of human history, stories have helped people make sense of their lives and their world. Today, an understanding of storytelling is invaluable as we seek to orient ourselves within a flood of raw information and an unprecedented variety of supposedly true accounts. In Stories Make the World, award-winning screenwriter Stephen Most offers a captivating, refreshingly heartfelt exploration of how documentary filmmakers and other storytellers come to understand their subjects and cast light on the world through their art. Drawing on the author’s decades of experience behind the scenes of television and film documentaries, this is an indispensable account of the principles and paradoxes that attend the quest to represent reality truthfully. Stephen Most (Peru 1965-67) is an author, playwright, . . .

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“What Are You?” They Ask My Son by Michael Meyer (China)

  This Opinion piece appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, written by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97). Michael teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh. His most recent book, just published by Bloomsbury, is The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up. — JC • “What Are You?” They Ask My Son At 5, he doesn’t quite understand what it means to be ‘biracial.’ ‘I’m a boy,’ he says.   My son is 5. He was born in Hong Kong and spent the past two years in Singapore. We returned to the U.S. so he could grow up here, and the culture shock has been minimal: Like his fellow kindergartners, Benji loves Legos and belting out “Let it Go.” Unlike them, he plays piano, which he learned in a Singapore preschool. Also unlike them, Benji is constantly asked: “What are you?” It’s a . . .

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WRITING ABROAD by Peter Chilson (Niger) published by University of Chicago Press

  “Tell me all about your trip!” It’s a request that follows travelers as they head out into the world, and one of the first things they hear when they return. When we leave our homes to explore the wider world, we feel compelled to capture the experiences and bring the story home. But for those who don’t think of themselves as writers, putting experiences into words can be more stressful than inspirational. Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers is meant for travelers of all backgrounds and writing levels: a student embarking on overseas study; a retiree realizing a dream of seeing China; a Peace Corps worker in Kenya. All can benefit from documenting their adventures, whether on paper or online. Through practical advice and adaptable exercises, this guide will help travelers hone their observational skills, conduct research and interviews, choose an appropriate literary form, and incorporate photos and videos into . . .

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New book on Bobby Kennedy by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

  Amazon Has This To Say: With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby, Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century. Overlooked by his father, and overshadowed by his war-hero brother, Bobby Kennedy was the perpetual underdog. When he had the chance to become a naval officer like Jack, Bobby turned it down, choosing instead to join the Navy as a common sailor. It was a life-changing experience that led him to connect with voters from all walks of life: young or old, black or white, rich or poor. They were the people who turned out for him in his 1968 campaign. RFK would prove himself to be the rarest of politicians — both a pragmatist who knew how . . .

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Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October

  In 1995, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Meyer, after rejecting offers to go to seven other countries, was selected for the new China program and sent to a tiny town in Sichuan, China. Going there, he wrote Chinese words up and down his arms so he could hold conversations, and per a Communist dean’s orders, jumped into explaining to his students the Enlightenment, the stock market, and Beatles lyrics. Thus began his impassioned immersion into Chinese life. Michael has spent most of the last twenty years living and working on China’s urban and rural halves, learning to understand its people, culture, and conflicts as very few from the West ever have. His new book The Road to Sleeping Dragon chronicles the journey that he made to understand China. As he has done with his other books, Michael puts readers in his novice shoes, introducing them to a fascinating cast . . .

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Make Love Not War . . . Will Siegel (Ethiopia) writes Haight Ashbury novel

  Will Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) went to San Francisco after his Peace Corps years and much of his new novel is set during the “summer of love” in Haight Ashbury. Peace Corps Writers will be publishing Will’s Last Journey Home — A Novel of the 1960s, next year. Here is a chapter from his forthcoming book. As Will describes it: This is a chapter about midway through my novel. Gil, the main character, returned from the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, is now in graduate school and after about a year and a half, (in the spring 1965) he brings his girlfriend, Suzanne, to meet his new hippie friends. He is trying to please them both, though he sometimes resents that the apartment, near the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco was taken over by this hippie cohort of his roommate, Franco. There is another RPCV in the room, Busby, who has completely disavowed his Peace Corps . . .

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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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