Archive - May 30, 2017

Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)

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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