Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) has written about China in three lovely books, and lives today in Colorado, where, by the way, he is the very new father of twins! He has now turned his amazing journalistic and literary skills on the southwestern section of Colorado where uranium created a cancer epidemic back in the ’50s. He writes about all of this in the September 13, 2010, issue of The New Yorker. You might want to check it out.
It is rather amazing how all the talented RPCV writers have come out of China. I have written about this ‘China gang” before. There is Peter, who published Country Driving: A Journey Through China to Factory in February, and also Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) and his The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed that was published by Walker in 2008. And other writers as well.
These guys are serious and important. You should check out their books, if you haven’t done so already.
I have always thought Micronesia was the nation with the best collection of Peace Corps writers because of P.F. Kluge ( Micronesia 1967-69); Eric Lax (Micronesia 1966-68); Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80); Reilly Ridgell (Micronesia 1971-73); and Charlie Smith (Micronesia 1968-70), but I have had to ‘rethink’ my position. These China PCVs can really write!
(Okay, lets not forget Nigeria with Bill Barich (Nigeria 1964-66) and Phil Dacey (Nigeria 1964-66), and, of course Ethiopia with Dick Lipez ( Ethiopia 1962-64); Phil Damon (Ethiopia 1964-66); Mark Dintenfass (Ethiopia 1964-66), and, of course, the late and very talented Maria Thomas (Ethiopia 1971-73), but when you get real serious, it goes back to those China PCVs.)
Maybe it is true: the Peace Corps sent the smartest PCVs to Beijing!