I was struck the other day when I got an email from an RPCV who wanted to know if I was the “most famous” of all the Peace Corps writer. Hello?
“Hardly,” I wrote back. I’m not even on that list of writers. So, just in case people don’t know the many, many fine, award-winning writers who served in the Peace Corps, here is a list of the talented and best known of the corps of writer — and one of their books — who once served as Volunteers.
And last but not least —
Besides RPCVs, a number of members of the staff of the Peace Corps have written major novels and works of non-fiction. Among them:
The writers from the Peace Corps also have won almost every major prize of literature, including the National Book Award (Norm Rush & Bob Shacochis); PEN/Faulkner Award (Richard Wiley); American Book Award (Marnie Mueller); Iowa Short Fiction Award (Mark Brazaitis); Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize (Peter Chilson); Associated Writing Programs Award (Peter Chilson); Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Bob Shacochis & Tom Bissell); Anhinga Prize for Poetry (Ann Neelon); James Michener Award (Bob Shacochis); Kiriyama Prize (Peter Hessler); Minnesota Book Award (Kathleen Coskran); Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (Anne Panning); Dorset Prize for Poetry (Sandra Meek); Whiting Award (Kent Haruf & Melanie Sumner); Milkweed National Fiction Prize (Eileen Drew); Overseas Press Club Award (George Packer); New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism (George Packer). Peace Corps writers have also been awarded a half dozen Guggenheims Fellowships, and dozens of Fulbright Fellowships and NEA Grants.
Note: You can click on the books shown above to order them from Amazon.