Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

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KINGDOMS IN THE AIR by Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean)
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B.A. East’s (Malawi) new novel: TWO PUMPS FOR THE BODY MAN
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HuffPost publishes essay by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone)
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Rob Schmitz (China) writes STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS
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Peter Hessler’s (China) Peace Corps memoir to be made into a movie
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RPCV writers at The New Yorker
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Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal) publishes new travel book
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Matthew A. Hamilton’s (Armenia, Philippines) new collection of poems: LIPS OPEN AND DIVINE
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Christopher West Davis (Kenya) publishes AFRICAN WITCH
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THE GREAT SURGE by Steven Radelet (Western Samoa) reviewed in WSJ

KINGDOMS IN THE AIR by Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean)

  From the Internet: Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches from the Far Away brings together the very best of Bob Shacochis’s culture and travel essays in one live-wire collection that spans his global adventures and his life passions; from surfing, to his obsession with the South American dorado, to the time he went bushwhacking in Mozambique. In the titular essay “Kingdoms,” the longest work in the collection, Shacochis ventures to Nepal with his friend, the photographer Thomas Laird, who was the first foreigner to live in Nepal’s kingdom of Mustang as the forbidden Shangri-la prepared to open its borders to trekkers and trade. When the two men return a decade after Laird first lived there, Shacochis observes in brilliantly evocative prose both the current cultural and political landscape of the country, and the changes with which his friend has to reconcile. Replete with Shacochis’s signature swagger, humor, and crystalline wisdom, . . .

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B.A. East’s (Malawi) new novel: TWO PUMPS FOR THE BODY MAN

  In Two Pumps for the Body Man by B.A. East (Malawi 1996–98) protagonist Jeff Mutton walks the diplomatic beat protecting American officials in Saudi Arabia. An expert with guns, knives, grenades, and rockets, he’s survived assaults and sieges, stabbings and chokeholds, car bombs, carjackings, criminal hits, and countless other enemy threats. But instinct tells Mutton the menace he now faces dwarfs all these killers combined. Part soft-boiled noir, part literary satire, Two Pumps for the Body Man is an unserious look at a serious situation, a grim reminder that no matter how high the barricade, how sharp the razor wire, there is no front line to the War on Terror. And the enemy is everywhere, even within. • B.A. East grew up in Connecticut, studied writing, journalism, and literature at Central Connecticut State University, and after graduation studied education at the University of New Haven. Ben then joined the Peace Corps and spent two years teaching . . .

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HuffPost publishes essay by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone)

Huffington Post has published If You Plant Rice, You Get Rice by Betsy Small Campbell (Sierra Leone 1984–87) — an essay about her country of service, the diamond war, and the children of war. She is currently working on a book about her time in the Peace Corps called Before, Before.

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Rob Schmitz (China) writes STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS

ROB SCHMITZ (China 1996-98) first arrived in China in 1996 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Sichuan province. He is now the China correspondent for American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” the largest business news program in the U.S. In 2012, he exposed fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Apple’s Chinese supply chain on “This American Life.” The work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association for his reporting on China. Schmitz maintains a blog — Chinopoly— and in May, his first book, Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road, will be published. • In an interview with Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet, on his blog Shanghai Scrap, Rob talks about how the Peace Corps lead him into journalism. Scrap: How does one go from Peace Corps volunteer to China Bureau . . .

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Peter Hessler’s (China) Peace Corps memoir to be made into a movie

Chinese Lu Chuan will direct and produce River Town, the Tristine Skyler adaptation of the memoir River Town: Two Years On The Yangtze, by New Yorker staff writer Peter Hessler. Jamie Gordon and Courtney Potts of Fugitive Films are producing. This Peace Corps memoir by Peter, his first book, will depict a celebrated American writer’s journey to China for the long-awaited Chinese publication of his memoir, triggering memories from 20 years earlier when he taught English literature as a PCV to Chinese college students while on the brink of a nation’s unprecedented change. Lu’s film credits include The Missing Gun, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, City Of Life And Death and The Last Supper. He last directed  Of The Ghostly Tribe, which grossed $106 million in mainland China within its first weeks of release. He is in postproduction on Born In China for Disney, which will be released this summer in China and April 2017 in the U.S. In addition to being a staff . . .

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RPCV writers at The New Yorker

The March 7, 2016 issue of The New Yorker features two articles by RPCVs. Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) is a staff writer living now with his family in Cairo, and he writes “Living-Room Democracy,” an article on political candidates in Egypt who go door-to-door seeking votes. He starts with Yusuf Hasan Yusuf, a candidate for the new national parliament from rural Upper Egypt, who has no public political activity. Yusuf has no platform, and does not talk about issues, policies, or potential legislation when he campaigns. He has never made a single public campaign promise. Yet he still wins elections. Peter then goes onto interview and follow other candidates, mostly in Upper Egypt, on their home visits in this political season, and he does a quick evaluation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice candidate, as well as, fill in how Upper Egypt has gone from nomadic Bedouin to a fledgling democracy. In . . .

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Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal) publishes new travel book

Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) has just published her third travel book, Sailing between the Seas: The Panama Canal. Leita, among many other careers, worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at the age of 55, then went to work for the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti for five years. She retired in Florida in 2002, and wrote a memoir of Senegal, Roller Skating in the Desert. In 2012 with Peace Corps Writers, she published In the Valley of Atibon which chronicles her experiences as a middle-aged white woman who goes to Haiti filled with good intentions to manage Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and its community development program. What unfolds for her, however, is a hell filled with young revolutionaries and vagabonds who threaten her life, and the very existence of the hospital and the program. Prompted by these experiences she delves into the . . .

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Matthew A. Hamilton’s (Armenia, Philippines) new collection of poems: LIPS OPEN AND DIVINE

The winner of the Peace Corps Writers Best Book of Poetry in 2013 for  The Land of the Four Rivers, Matthew Hamilton, has a new collection entitled, Lips Open and Divine. These new poems will be published this spring by Winter Goose. It is a collection that “confronts some of the moral consequences of our time.” These poems are “void of hectoring language and insensitivity, forcing us to examine our most private and emotional complexities. Matthew Hamilton is a former Soldier, Congressional Aide, Peace Corps Volunteer, and Benedictine Monk. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from Fairfield University and is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of national and international journals, including Atticus Review, Coe Review, Noctua Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Burnt Bridge, Boston Literary Magazine, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and The Transnational. Currently, he is the Librarian at . . .

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Christopher West Davis (Kenya) publishes AFRICAN WITCH

Christopher West Davis (Kenya 1975-78) is a journalist who lived in Kenya and now lives and works in the New York City at the China Daily. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest and other publications. In 2005, he was named Aerospace Journalist of the Year by the Royal Aeronautical Society (London). Katherine Stirling of The New Yorker called his previous book, Letters from Moritz Thomsen, “An utterly engrossing story… these marvelous letters and the attendant chronicle of the relationship that developed over their course is a story that is at once fascinating and quite moving, a hard balance to strike, in writing as in life.” Chris has a new book, a novel, entitled African Witch: A Modern Tale of Magical Harm. The write-up on Amazon for the book is: Kenya in its golden age, the safest, sexiest and most wildly popular playground in Africa. . . .

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THE GREAT SURGE by Steven Radelet (Western Samoa) reviewed in WSJ

Friday, February 12, 2016 the Wall Street Journal carried a long review by Mark Moyer, visiting scholar at the Foreign Policy Initiative, of  The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World written by Steven Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83), a former chief economist of AID and now holder of  the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at Georgetown University, is well as an economic adviser to the president of Liberia, and  most importantly, husband of Carrie Hessler Radelet, Director of the Peace Corps. In his review, Moyer writes, “Combining the real-world knowledge of a practitioner with the rigor of an academic, Mr. Radelet delivers a stimulating reconsideration of development aid.” Moyer points out that Radelet believes what has triggered the “great surge” was the crumbling of the Soviet Empire. “The discrediting of Marxist-Leninism encouraged poor countries to discard autocracy and state control of the economy in favor of liberal democracy and capitalism. The end of superpower competition also . . .

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