Nominate the Best Peace Corps Book(s) Published in 2011

Peace Corps Writers Awards for Books Published in 2011

It is time to nominate your favorite Peace Corps book published in 2011. Make your nomination(s) in the comment section following this announcement so people can see what books have been recognized. You may nominate your own book; books written by friends; books written by total strangers. The books can be about the Peace Corps or on any topic. The books must have been published in 2011. The awards will be announced in August. Thank you for nominating your favorite book written by a PCV, RPCV or Peace Corps Staff. A framed certificate and money are given to the winners.

Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award

First given in 1990, the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award was named to honor Paul Cowan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Ecuador. Cowan wrote The Making of An Un-American about his experiences as a Volunteer in Latin America in the sixties. A longtime activist and political writer for The Village Voice, Cowan died of leukemia in 1988.

Maria Thomas Fiction Award

The Maria Thomas Fiction award is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971-73)] who was the author of a well-reviewed novel and two collections of short stories all set in Africa. She lost her life in August, 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that killed Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas.

Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award

In 1992, The Peace Corps Experience Award was initiated. It is presented annually to a Peace Corps Volunteer or staff member, past or present for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. It can be a personal essay, story, poem, letter, cartoon or song. The subject matter can be any aspect of the Peace Corps experience – daily life, assignment, travel, host country nationals, other Volunteers, readjustment. Email a copy of your nomination to jpcoyne@cnr.edu.

In 1997, this award was renamed to honor Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67) whose Living Poor has been widely cited as an outstanding telling of the essence of the Peace Corps experience.

Award for Outstanding Poetry Book

In 1997, the firsst annual award for an outstanding poetry book by a Peace Corps writer was presented.

Award for Best Travel Writing

The award for Best Travel Book was first presented in 2001.

Award for Best Children’s Book
by a Peace Corps writer

The award for Best Children’s Book was first given out in 2001

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  • Taylor spent two year with Agua Para La Salud and me in Nebaj , Guatemala. In his book he related to the world his experience accurately and thoughtfully. Peace Corps is a rewarding, frustrating, and stessful experience and all aspiring candidates should read this book to understand the position they will be placing themselves. Some felt the book was negative, but knowing Taylor personally he was simply attempting to tell his story with reality so that the reader would have all of the facts to make a reasoned decision about their future role as a Peace Corps volunteer and/or a supporter of the valuable program.

  • Fiesta of Sunset by Taylor Dibbert was an amazing read! Mr Dibbert’s whit and humor throughout his book enabled me to feel like I was in the triangle with him to understand and learn from his struggles and successes. The vivid imagery of his story inspires me to visit Guatemala one day. I wish to nominate Fiesta of Sunset for the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award.

  • Taylor Dibbert’s Fiesta of Sunset is a lyrical, insightful narrative of peace corps experience in Guatemala. It is a superbly written honest and thought provoking account, a must read for all those volunteers heading out, in the field or returned who are trying to make sense of it all. I nominate it for this prize.

  • I agree with the folks recommending Taylor Dibbert’s book, Fiesta of Sunset, for the Peace Corps Experience prize.

    Dibbert has done a great favor for people like me whose real knowledge of the lives Peace Corps Volunteers lead is based on what took place decades ago, and for those considering Peace Corps service as the next step in their lives. His account is today’s account, not one remembered some decades later.

    Dibbert tells his story with honesty, clarity, some humor, and always with a deeply felt concern for the people he devoted 27 months of his young life to. The powers that be in Washington may wish that some of his tales had stayed safely tucked away in his journal, but for those of us who want to know what it is really like in the field these days, this is the book for us.

    Many of the events Dibbert writes about – the administrative nightmare of the application process; the boredom of training; the seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations; the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of Peace Corps service; the challenge of cultural differences; and the myriad of obstacles that make daily life a continuing struggle – will be familiar to those who have lived the PCV life. What makes the book of such interest to us old hands are the parts of 21st Century Volunteer life that are different. Let’s start with a simple but eye-opening description of his group’s swearing-in ceremony. “All the guys wore ties and the women wore pretty dresses.” I doubt if either piece of apparel could be found anywhere in the Peace Corps world in the 1970s!

    Dibbert’s book is based on ‘real time’ journal entries that include off-hand mentions of cell phone calls, trips to the internet café, watching CNN on TV, and calling home on a regular basis, all facets ot today’s Peace Corps experience. But he also tells the rest of the story: loneliness and the absence of dear friends; the 27-month absence of a normally functioning bodily ‘plumbing system;’ and all the rest of what constitutes the Peace Corps experience.

    Dibbert’s book is a pleasure to read, could serve as an excellent recruiting tool, and stands out as one of the best ‘Experience’ books written by a recent RPCV, its recentcy being an important part of its high-rating.

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