From a “mad tea party” infused with vodka and the sheep-head delicacy called beshbarmak (“five fingers”), to places less traveled like the dying Aral Sea, A Five Finger Feast is a story about a young American in a foreign land.
A Five Finger Feast is a collection of “lessons” and coming-of-age stories by RPCV Tim Suchsland set to the backdrop of Kazakhstan. It’s about the ups and the downs, the excitement and the thrill of living abroad as a young person. A Five Finger Feast is a story about the Peace Corps, an institution at the heart and soul of what it means to be American. It is a memoir about growing up and better understanding what is “home” while living far away.
Through Suchsland’s story, he unfolds a place of contrast and beauty. He discusses the tragic, yet hopeful history of Kazakhstan and its people, helping to give readers a better understanding of Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. His story is about the hospitable people he met and grew to love. With the humorous host father named Äke, the gregarious host brother named Ağasi, a caring babushka named Baba Toma, and the camaraderie of other Peace Corps Volunteers, A Five Finger Feast is a story about Suchsland’s encounters with these people in places unknown to most Americans. However, at their core, they are familiar. It is a travel story written about the twists and turns of life abroad and the surprises and the joy that come with it.
Tim Suchsland spent two years (2007-09) in Kazakhstan teaching English with the Peace Corps. During that time, the experiences shaped his worldview in ways he couldn’t have imagined. He began writing and reflecting on the life changing events that took place in Kazakhstan. What came out of this reflection is A Five Finger Feast. Today, Suchsland lives with his family in Seattle, Washington. He works as a counselor and an artist. You can learn more about him and his work at www.TimSuchslandArt.com.
A Five Finger Feast: Two Years in Kazakhstan, Lessons from the Peace Corps
by Tim Suchsland (Kazakhstan 2007–09), author and illustrator
Peace Corps Writers, May 2022