Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

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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
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Frank Mankiewicz's (Staff 1961-65, DC & CD Peru) So As I Was Saying
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Cindy Goff (Central African Republic 1983-85) Tales from the Heart Comic Books
10
Catherine Varchaver (APCD Kyrgyzstan 1995-97) Edits Her Grandmother’s Book on Fly Fishing

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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Frank Mankiewicz's (Staff 1961-65, DC & CD Peru) So As I Was Saying

This February 16th Thomas Dunne Books will publish the memoir of the late Frank Mankiewicz, So As I Was Saying . . .: My Somewhat Eventful Life, written by Frank and Joel Swerdlow. The book tells the story of one of the very early Peace Corps staff members, the first CD in Peru, and later Latin America Regional Director who later went on to become Senator Robert Kennedy’s press secretary, as well as, for George McGovern, and who had a long career in media and politics. Much of what is written about in this book about his Peace Corps tour was first recounted in Coates Redmon’s Come As You Are published in 1986 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. What’s news here, at least to me, is the background involving Mankiewicz and LBJ during the Dominican Republic Invasion of 1965 when PCVs in-country were in almost unanimous support of the rebels opposing . . .

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Cindy Goff (Central African Republic 1983-85) Tales from the Heart Comic Books

Organizing my Peace Corps books to donate them to one of the academic Peace Corps collections, I came across 8 comic books that were co-written in the late ’80s and early ’90s by Cindy Goff (Central African Republic 1983-85) and Rafael Nieves. The comics were first published by Entropy Enterprises in Minnesota, then by Slave Labor Graphics, in San Jose, California. The co-authorship began, as the two explain in the first issue, because of their friendship. Cindy writes, “He [Rafael] got me hooked on comics early in our friendship. Why we are friends is hard to figure out. He grew up in a tough Puerto Rican neighborhood of Chicago; I in the lily-white suburbs of Minneapolis. He dislikes chatter and boisterousness, both of which I am accused of regularly. He dislikes chatter and boisterousness, both of which I am accused of regularly. He is quiet and serious and street smart, . . .

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Catherine Varchaver (APCD Kyrgyzstan 1995-97) Edits Her Grandmother’s Book on Fly Fishing

Maxine Atherton learned to fish with her father and attended the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where she met her future husband, John Atherton, the renowned painter and illustrator-and avid angler. After John’s untimely death in 1952 while fishing on the Miramichi in New Brunswick, Maxine embarked on an extended angling adventure in France and Spain that led to many more adventures over the next four decades. In 1962 Max published Every Sportsman’s Cookbook. She spent her last years writing in Manchester, Vermont, and died in January 1997. When she passed away, her granddaughter, Catherine Varchaver, (APCD Kyrgyzstan 1995-97) found a wrapped roll of manuscript pages that she had honed, one reviewer writes, “into this winsome yet powerful memoir” just published by Skyhorse Publishing and entitled, The Fly Fisher and the River. It is being released in conjunction with a reissue of The Fly and the Fish by . . .

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