RPCV is fictional character in new African novel (Ghana)



A few non-RPCVs writers have used the Peace Corps and PCVs in plots for their books over the years, most famously Tama Janowitz’s novel, A Cannibal in Manhattan published in 1987 by Crown. In the early days of the agency, there was also a series of YA books about Peace Corps Volunteer nurses, mostly set in Africa.

Also, Tom Hanks in his 1985 movie Volunteers is a rich playboy who avoids gambling debts by jumping on a plane full of PCVs heading for Thailand. You might have seen that very funny movie.

Now, a well-known Ghanaian-American mystery writer, Kwei Quartey, has written The Missing American, about a 68-year-old RPCV who returns to Ghana to track down the internet fraudster who scammed him out of a lot of money.

Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and raised by a black American mother and a Ghanaian father. A retired physician, he writes full-time in Pasadena. He is the author of five other critically acclaimed novels in the Darko Dawson series, Wife of the GodsChildren of the StreetMurder at Cape Three PointsGold of Our Fathers and Death by His Grace. Find him on Instagram @crimefictionwithkweiquartey and on his website, kweiquartey.com.

Or you can wait until mid-January when mystery writer Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) publishes his review of the novel in the Washington Post. Dick’s word to me is that the book is “really good.”



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  • I recently read a fantastic book, “What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Protest” by Carolyn Fourche, about El Salvador in the 1970s. There are two PCVs in the book who are “good guys” and helpful.

    Thanks for this interesting post.


    • I just finished Carolyn Forche’s memoir about the early years of the Salvadoran civil war, 1977-80. I strongly recommend it to anybody with an interest in El Salvador and /or human rights abuses. As an El Salvador RPCV (1974-76) I’ve always been shocked at how quickly the situation there deteriorated after 1976.

  • Sort of piggy backing here … I just finished a newly published book with the unlikely title … THE DUNG BEETLES OF LIBERIA … it is set in early 1960s Liberia… in country PCVs play a significant role in the story. The following are comments I made on a Friends of Liberia Facebook page.

    “Anybody here who has had a run-in with something called a ‘dung beetle’ in Liberia raise your hands now. My guess is that there are not many raised hands. I’ve come across quite a few multi-legged critters in my days in the Land of Liberty but, to my knowledge, never a dung beetle.

    You will not be surprised thus that my curiosity was really tweaked when — in my wanderings around the Internet — I came across a book wonderfully entitled ‘The Dung Beetles of Liberia’ by Daniel V. Meier. OMG!! who could resist!!
    I just finished it and, at around 300 pages, it was really a well-told story and a fun ride. It could have easily been subtitled ‘The life and times of a bush pilot back in the day.’ It is set from 1961 through 1968. These dates were particularly relevant to me because my PCV days were 1964 through 1967.

    What I ran into?? It is written as a series of anecdotes tied together to tell the story … … lots of place names we all know and love; quite a few meals and beers at one of my favorite meet-up spots when in Monrovia back then (Heinz and Maria’s on Broad Street); relatively well-transcribed Liberian English; a sprinkling of Spriggs-Payne bush pilots; a number of PCVs and expat Americans, Germans, and Israelis; malaria, hepatitis, diarrhea and even guinea worm; a couple of Honorables thrown in (including, of course, the biggest of all, WVS Tubman); a couple of your favorite houseboys; even one or two Gurley Street bar girls.

    If you are interested, the book is available at Amazon . com either in paperback, an audio book (maybe read by the author?) or for your Kindle. There are also a number or review comments on the page. I find it strange that the brief biographical notes about the author on the Amazon . com page and in the back of the book make no mention of any time that he might have spent in Liberia. I don’t think there’s any way he would’ve been able to write this book without spending quite some time in Monrovia and hanging around, in and out of Spriggs-Payne field. The people and the geography in the book are just too accurate for anybody who hasn’t spent time in the country. You would almost think that he had been a PCV. You and I will pick up a few errors because we have been there, but I don’t think anything too glaring. If you read it, I would love to know what you think of it.”

    I followed with an additional post: “Here is a good back-story interview with the author that I have just found …. staying tuned for the sequel!! https://literarytitan.com/…/08/24/the-chaos-of-revolution/ “

  • Hello Dale! Looks like an interesting read. Our book Voices of African Immigrants in Kenticky: Migration, Identity, and Transnationality is just out, written with two immigrants Francis Musoni and Iddah Otieno. Four Liberian immigrants are featured, including Jemima Natt Roberts. You should remember her from Suehn.

    • Hey, Angene…. you and Jack have got to read this book… Such a strange title but you will definitely recognize a lot of the geography, place names and the storyline because it was exactly the time that you were in Liberia. Congrats and best of luck with the new book. Certainly recall fondly both Jemima and Bibi. Best.

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