Peace Corps writers

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HAUSALAND DIVIDED by William F.S. Miles (Niger)
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One of the Best Thriller and Mystery Novels of 2022 – Richard Lipez (Ethiopia)
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A True Love of Literature by Richard Wiley (Korea)
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ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)
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THE VEGETABLE GROWS AND THE LION ROARS by Gary R. Lindberg (Ivory Coast)
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Laura Ann Twagira’s (Mali) EMBODIED ENGINEERING — finalist for award
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LETTERS FROM ALFONSO by Earl Kessler (Colombia)
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FINDING OUR WAY by Steven Gallon (Korea)
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Richard Wiley (Korea) | Who Told You She Is Your Wife?
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Talking With Danusha Goska (CAR & Nepal)
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Craig Storti (Morocco) — THE HUNT FOR MT. EVEREST
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Grab Your Reader by the Throat
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Kate Mangino (Togo) EQUAL PARTNERS: Improving Gender Equality at Home
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BEYOND THE ROAD TO SINYEA by Ann Hales (Liberia)
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Review — THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

HAUSALAND DIVIDED by William F.S. Miles (Niger)

  How have different forms of colonialism shaped societies and their politics? William F. S. Miles (Niger 1977-79) focuses on the Hausa-speaking people of West Africa whose land is still split by an arbitrary boundary established by Great Britain and France at the turn of the century. In 1983 Miles returned as a Fulbright scholar to the region where he had served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Already fluent in the Hausa language, he established residence in carefully selected twin villages on either side of the border separating the Republic of Niger from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Over the next year, and then during subsequent visits, he traveled by horseback between the two places, conducting archival research, collecting oral testimony, and living the ethnographic life. Miles argues that the colonial imprint of the British and the French can still be discerned more than a generation after the conferring of . . .

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One of the Best Thriller and Mystery Novels of 2022 – Richard Lipez (Ethiopia)

  The Washington Post has selected Knock Off the Hat by Richard Stevenson (Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) as one of the 12 Best Thriller and Mystery Novels of 2022. Dick Lipez, writing as Richard Stevenson, died this year, shortly before the publication of this standout. (Stevenson, writing under his real name, Richard Lipez, was also a frequent Washington Post reviewer.) The story — In post-World War II  Philadelphia, detective Clifford Waterman is trying to help a man charged with “disorderly conduct” following a raid at a gay bar. The seemingly small case sends Waterman into a world of corruption involving a dangerous judge who preys on the city’s gay population.   Knock off the Hat Richard Stevenson (Richard Lipez – Ethiopia 1962-64) Amble Press, 2022 222 pages 17.99 (paperback), $8.69 (Kindle)  

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A True Love of Literature by Richard Wiley (Korea)

  By Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69)   A couple of weeks ago I was invited to (and attended) a book club here in Los Angeles … the oldest book club, I later found out, in a part of L.A. called Westchester, not far from Marina Del Rey and Venice Beach … really just an couple of hour’s hike, if you were in the mood and had good shoes, from the western shores of our continent.  So you could go down there and try to find Catalina Island on the horizon (which many of us know is ‘twenty-six miles across the sea’). I was invited to the book club because its members had chosen my own recent novel The Grievers’ Group to read last month, and they had questions.  By that I don’t mean questions like “How dare you write about grief?  You don’t know grief from shinola!” but well-thought-out, literary-minded questions regarding my collection . . .

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ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)

  St. Petersburg Bay Blues is Douglas Buchacek’s account of serving in Western Russia from 2001 to 2003, in what ultimately turned out to be the final Peace Corps cohort to serve in the country. He has documented his service, which began three weeks before 9/11, up through the ultimate closing of the program in February 2003, amidst accusations of espionage against Peace Corps Volunteers. The Russia he lived in was a world caught between worlds — the after effects of the end of the Soviet Union, the chaos of the 1990s, the beginnings of Putinism — and that struggle affected his service, and everyone he encountered . . . Russian and American. The book is also a story of youth, of growing up, of friendship, of curiosity. It is a meditation on the joy of adventure, as well as on sadness and loneliness, and a portrait of a society . . .

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THE VEGETABLE GROWS AND THE LION ROARS by Gary R. Lindberg (Ivory Coast)

  The Vegetable Grows and the Lion Roars: My Peace Corps Service is a memoir about author Gary R. Lindberg’s experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ivory Coast in the 1960s. This  book offers a fascinating glimpse into what it was like to be a PCV in the early days of the program. This one-of-a-kind memoir presents how he decided to apply for the opportunity, how he trained, his project, the daily life activities, and the friends he made while he was there. He also shares highlights from the travels he took when on vacation breaks, such as his experience on a safari and his visit to the legendary city of Timbuktu. This memoir combines historical elements with personal vignettes as Lindberg elaborates on his many adventures – such as having a broken radiator in the middle of nowhere and how he and his companions got help. In . . .

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Laura Ann Twagira’s (Mali) EMBODIED ENGINEERING — finalist for award

  Finalist for the 2022 African Studies Association Best Book Prize   Steve Scarpa | The Wesleyan Connection   Associate history professor Laura Ann Twagira’s (Mali 2000-01) book begins with a song – Malian women sing and boast about the quality of their cuisine. From that domestic moment, Twagira found the keys to a technological revolution. “Women brag and praise each other. They make food that everyone enjoys and that enlivens life. To do that, they need a set of key technological skills,” she said. Embodied Engineering: Gendered Labor, Food Security, and Taste in Twentieth-Century Mali was named a finalist for the 2022 Best Book Award by the African Studies Association (ASA). The winner of the award will be announced in November. The ASA presents the award annually, recognizing the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States in the previous year. The . . .

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LETTERS FROM ALFONSO by Earl Kessler (Colombia)

  “The story of how the poor are the victims of the environment — floods, windstorms, tremors, drought — is rarely told as beautifully as by Alfonso, the community’s leader, to Earl, his Peace Corps friend and supporter.” — Pablo Gutman Senior Director Environmental Economics World Wildlife Fund ‘The lessons of Letters from Alfonso are important for anyone interested in understanding the process of development, especially those who want to get deeply and meaningfully involved in the good work of helping real people who are trying to better their lives.” — Bimal Patel Ahmedabad University • Earl Kessler has been engaged in the design and development of shelter and urban programs since 1965 when he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Colombia. He earned a Master of Architecture degree in the Planning for Developing Countries Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked on urban strategies for . . .

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FINDING OUR WAY by Steven Gallon (Korea)

  In the summer of 1967 a young husband and wife, barely in their twenties, depart home and family in Southern California to embark on a grand adventure. Finding Our Way: A Newlywed Couple’s Peace Corps Odyssey in 1960s Korea chronicles two years of their life together as Peace Corps Volunteers in South Korea. Living with a host Korean family, they discover the patterns and rhythms of everyday life in a country whose culture and customs are unfamiliar. Stationed in Taegu, Korea’s third largest city, they introduce spoken English to Korean middle school students. As guests in a foreign land they face cultural dilemmas, embrace adventures of discovery, experience trying times and build lifelong friendships. Korea in the late 1960s was emerging from decades of Japanese occupation, and a devastating war with cultural neighbors and political enemies in the North. It was a time of economic hardship for much of the population . . .

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Richard Wiley (Korea) | Who Told You She Is Your Wife?

  Who Told You She Is Your Wife? By Richard Wiley (Korea 1967–69) • Once a famous Nigerian playwright got a call from a woman who was in love with him. He knew the woman. She had been a paramour of his Or he of hers. Or maybe their relationship had been on equal footing, I don’t know. But whatever happened was years in the past by the time he got the call. And in the call, the woman said she wanted him back. “I am married now,” he told her. “Surely you know that.” “Who told you you are married?” the woman asked, her voice settling into the low center-of-gravity, pre-battle, mode that Nigerians know how to articulate best. “Who told me? I attended the ceremony. I remember exchanging vows.” “I will tear her asunder, teach her the meaning of ‘six feet under,’ then we’ll see who’s married. Who told . . .

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Talking With Danusha Goska (CAR & Nepal)

  An interview by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) Danusha Goska (CAR 1980-81) and (Nepal 1982-84) was born in New Jersey to peasant immigrants from Poland and Slovakia. She has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, Europe, on both coasts, and in the heartland of the US. She holds an MA from the University at California, Berkeley, and a PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her writing has been awarded a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant, the PAHA Halecki Award, and others. Her book Save Send Delete was inspired by her relationship with a prominent atheist. In 2018 she published God Through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery.    Danusha, you did two tours as a PCV. What were your assignments? I was assigned to teach TEFL, English as a foreign language in the CAR and Nepal. What did you bring away from those tours? Were they alike? The most . . .

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Craig Storti (Morocco) — THE HUNT FOR MT. EVEREST

  The height of Mt. Everest was first measured in 1850, but the closest any westerner got to Everest during the next 71 years — until 1921 — was 40 miles. The Hunt for Mt. Everest tells the story of the 71-year quest to find the world’s highest mountain. It’s a tale of high drama, of larger-than-life characters — George Everest, Francis Younghusband, George Mallory, Lord Curzon, Edward Whymper, and a few quiet heroes: Alexander Kellas, the 13th Dalai Lama, and Charles Bell. It is a story that traverses the Alps, the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet, the British Empire (especially British India and the Raj), the Anglo-Russian rivalry known as The Great Game, the disastrous First Afghan War, and the phenomenal Survey of India — it is far bigger than simply the tallest mountain in the world. Encountering spies, war, political intrigues, and hundreds of mules, camels, bullocks, yaks, and two zebrules, . . .

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Grab Your Reader by the Throat

  by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)   I am a great believer in writing an opening sentence or opening paragraph that hooks the readers and keeps them reading. Writing have change from when a writer could move leisurely into a tale and keep the attention of a reader with long narrative and descriptive sentences. Anytime you are anywhere — glance around — you’ll see people reaching for their iphone, checking messages, national news, or just the weather. No one, it seems, has the time or patience to read anything longer than an email. Today, no reader wants to turn a page of prose unless the next page is promising more surprises. Readers want what they’re reading to be fast, funny, or forget it. Here is what I mean. I have written these openings to  grab the reader by the throat and keep him or her reading. This is a short . . .

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Kate Mangino (Togo) EQUAL PARTNERS: Improving Gender Equality at Home

  From gender expert and professional facilitator Kate Mangino comes Equal Partners, an informed guide about how we can all collectively work to undo harmful gender norms and create greater household equity. As American society shut down due to Covid, millions of women had to leave their jobs to take on full-time childcare. As the country opens back up, women continue to struggle to balance the demands of work and home life. Kate Mangino, a professional facilitator for twenty years, has written a comprehensive, practical guide for readers and their partners about gender norms and household balance. Yes, part of our gender problem is structural, and that requires policy change. But much of our gender problem is social, and that requires us to change. Quickly moving from diagnosis to solution, Equal Partners focuses on what we can do, everyday people living busy lives, to rewrite gender norms to support a balanced homelife so . . .

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BEYOND THE ROAD TO SINYEA by Ann Hales (Liberia)

   A Peace Corps Memoir — 1981–1983   When a young woman strides into her dream adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer, she gets more that she bargained for — the experience transforms her life. As nursing instructor in Liberia, West Africa, in the early 1980s, she witnesses gut-wrenching life circumstances of the Liberian people and their systems of education and health care. While living in a traditional village, she discovers that her neighbors believe she has magical pawers, encounters the “devil” from the Secret Bush Society, and finds “family” when she least expected to do so. This deeply personal memoir is filled with stories of West African life as seen firsthand throughout the eyes of a person who wanted to make a difference in the world. The author revisits her younger self with compassion and curiosity, conveying to readers an understanding of culture clash and the helplessness anyone might . . .

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Review — THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  The Bad Angel Brothers by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65)) ‎Mariner Books Publisher ‎352 pages September 2022 $14.99 (Kindle); $26.09 (Hardcover), $22.35 or 1 credit (Audiobook) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) is probably the most prolific of the Returned Peace Corps writers, with 33 works in fiction and 53 books overall. As with his latest book, I wasn’t enthusiastic about reading it, as I prefer his nonfiction travel stories. But just as was the case reading the life of the aging surfer in Hawaii in Under the Wave of Waimae (2021), he does a stellar job developing the characters in this psychological thriller. This most recent book is a classic tale of a dysfunctional family. A younger brother’s rivalry with his older brother, Frank, a domineering brother and a well-known lawyer in their small community in Massachusetts. Frank also has a propensity to come up with . . .

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