Matthew Davis (Mongolia 2000–02) is the winner of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Writers Experience Award for his memoir When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.
Matt has just returned to the United States after a year as a Fulbright Fellow to Syria and Jordan. He has an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa and a Master’s in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Kristine Huntley in Booklist wrote: In 2000, at the age of 23, Davis leaves Chicago, his hometown, to travel to Mongolia to work as a teacher for the Peace Corps. Once he arrives in the small town of Tsetserleg, Davis moves into a ger, the circular tent that will be his home for the next two years, and gets to know the family whose land he is living on. He finds his students difficult to motivate, and a romance with a beautiful Mongolian teacher is heated but brief. After enduring a brutal Mongolian winter and a plague-induced quarantine, Davis finds himself falling into the trap he sees so many Mongolian men around him succumbing to: drinking constantly and giving into violent tendencies. The longer he’s in Mongolia, the deeper he falls into depression and ennui, until a violent encounter shakes him into realizing his life has to change. Both a raw personal examination and an insightful look at Mongolian history and culture, Davis’ illuminating memoir sheds light on a remote region.
Our reviewer Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) wrote: His memoir preserves a brief moment in history like a bee caught in amber. This is an honest memoir written in sparse American-lean. His journalism background served him well.