The October issue of Harper’s Magazine carries a review of Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean 1975-76) novel, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul written by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97). This is the first time to my knowledge that we have a mano a mano between an  RPCV writer and an RPCV reviewer. (The only thing better would have been if Tony D’Souza was the referee.)bobshacochis_af2

I’m not sure if the editorial staff at Harper’s understand our “below the radar”  world of Peace Corps writers, but I picked up the magazine thinking: this could be good.

As a writer and reviewer, and an RPCV, I am sure Bissell is aware of Shacochis’ career and has been tracking it, waiting for Bob’s next big book.

And he is impressed by what Bob has produced, a novel that has been twenty years in the making.

Bissell also makes a telling point (about Shacochis and other RPCV writers) in his review of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, writing:

Shacochis descends from Conrad, Hemingway, and Graham Greene, all of whom are name-checked within his pages, yet Shacochis’s debt to these writers is less stylistic than spiritual. All have a weakness for oracular pessimism, a fascination for characters in extremis, and an angry sympathy for the wretched of the earth. The internationalist novel that Conrad, Hemingway, and Greene helped pioneer–which is carried on today not only by Shacochis but also by Robert Stone, Peter Matthiessen, Norman Rush, and Philip Caputo, among others–has an uncertain place in modern letters. Much of this, surely is due to the rise of so-called narrative non-fiction, which provides readers with a similar heavily informational and partially touristic experience.

At a book reading in New York several nights ago that I attended, Shacochis made the point that he will continue to focus his attention “internationally,” writing about the region of the world he knows so well, writing about Americans abroad, educating those of us back home. There is more to come. Lets hope we don’t have to wait another  20 years!

Upcoming Schedule for Shacochis Readings:

NEWPORT, RI

Friday, September 20, 6:00 PM

Reading & Signing

SALVE REGINA UNIVERSITY

Bazarsky Lecture Hall

100 Ochre Point Avenue

NEW ORLEANS, LA

Sunday, September 22, 11:00 AM

“Moveable Feast of Authors”

SOUTHERN INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION

Sheraton New Orleans

FAIRFAX, VA

Monday, September 23, 6:00 PM

Reading & Signing

FALL FOR THE BOOK FESTIVAL

George Mason University

DENVER, CO

Monday, September 30, 7:30 PM

Reading & Signing

TATTERED COVER BOOKSTORE

2526 East Colfax Avenue

OCTOBER 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA

Tuesday, October 1, 7:00 PM

Reading & Signing

BOOK SOUP

8818 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood

PORTLAND, OR

Wednesday, October 2, 7:30 PM

Reading & Signing

POWELL’S BOOKS

1005 W. Burnside St.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Thursday, October 3, 7:30 PM

Reading & Signing

BOOKSMITH

1644 Haight Street

SEATTLE, WA

Friday, October 4, 7:00 PM

Reading & Signing

ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY

1521 Tenth Ave

CORTE MADERA, CA

Saturday, October 5, 4:00 PM

Reading & Signing

BOOK PASSAGE

51 Tamal Vista Blvd.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM

Tuesday, October 8

Reading & Signing

BOOKWORKS

4022 Rio Grande Blvd.

SANTA FE, NM

Wednesday, October 9, 5:30 PM

Reading & Signing

OPCIT BOOKS

500 Montezuma, Suite 101

TAOS, NM

Thursday, October 10

Reading & Signing

MOBY DICKENS BOOKSHOP

in conjunction with SOMOS

124 Bent St

HOUSTON, TX

Monday, October 28, 7:00 PM

Reading & Signing

BRAZOS BOOKSTORE

2421 Bissonnet

MIAMI, FL

Saturday, November 23-26

Reading & Signing

MIAMI BOOK FAIR INTERNATIONAL