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 at Providence Girls Secondary School in Malawi.
When he returned to the U.S. in 1999, he found the whole world had got connected to the Internet while he was gone. He taught high school dropouts at an alternative incarceration center in Connecticut and at Brooklyn College Academy in New York, then spent two years teaching British and American Literature at the American School of Asuncion in Paraguay. Later he joined the State Department’s Foreign Service, studied Arabic for a year, and shipped off to his first assignment in Saudi Arabia. Subsequent tours have included work in Managua, Nicaragua; Accra, Ghana; Mexico City; and Washington, DC.
Ben’s manuscript of Two Pumps for the Body Man, treating espionage and the West African coke trade, was shortlisted in 2014 for the Dundee International Book Prize and the Leapfrog Press Fiction Prize. His short stories and novel reviews have appeared in The Foreign Service Journal, Atticus Review, Crime Factory Magazine, and other publications. He’s at work on a novel about the lack of a national conversation on gun control.
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Appreciate seeing this here. Writing has always been integral to the Peace Corps experience for me. Twenty years ago I met 40 complete strangers for pre-service training near DC. The task, it seemed, was to prepare for what awaited by publicly stating what we hoped to accomplish as volunteers. I’d always been writing. But outside a few close friends/family had shared my goal of publishing fiction with nobody. Staging was the first time I found the courage to say publicly: “I’m a writer.” Obviously those “strangers”, still connected after 20 years, proved a most welcoming and supportive audience.