Kenya

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PLANET PALM by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya)
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Happenstance by Lester M. Fishher (Kenya) [pen name of Lester Klungness]
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Review — PROJECT NAMAHANA by John Teschner (KENYA)
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16 New books by Peace Corps writers — May and June, 2022
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19 New books by Peace Corps writers — March and April, 2022
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Review — JACKSON’S KENYA by Otto Wiegand (Kenya, Paraguay)
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SWAHILI ON THE PRAIRIE – A film by David Goldenberg (Kenya)
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“The Other Kristen” by Kristen Roupenian (Kenya)
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Review — PORTRAITS OF INNOCENCE & SKETCHES OF JOY from Bie Bostrom (Kenya)
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Review: BREVITE´ by Stephen Mustoe (Kenya)
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New books by Peace Corps writers — April 2016
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Christopher West Davis (Kenya) publishes AFRICAN WITCH
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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part III
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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II
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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play

PLANET PALM by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya)

  Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything–and Endangered the World by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya 1991-93) The New Press 328 pages May 2021 $14.57 (Kindle); $21.49 (Hardcover); $18.49 (Audio CD)   Over the past few decades, palm oil has seeped into every corner of our lives. Worldwide, palm oil production has nearly doubled in just the last decade. Oil-palm plantations now cover an area nearly the size of New Zealand, and some form of the commodity lurks in half the products on U.S. grocery shelves. But the palm oil revolution has been built on stolen land and slave labor; it’s swept away cultures and so devastated the landscapes of Southeast Asia that iconic animals now teeter on the brink of extinction. Fires lit to clear the way for plantations spew carbon emissions to rival those of industrialized nations. James Beard Award–winning journalist Jocelyn C. Zuckerman spent years . . .

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Happenstance by Lester M. Fishher (Kenya) [pen name of Lester Klungness]

  A bastard boomer negotiates the maze of postwar America. Wrenched from his working single mother, and brought to Camp Pondosa by his grandfather who was Woods Manager for McCloud Rv. Lumber Co. After his WAC mother became an X-ray tech at the McCloud hospital, and acquired a husband, the new family moved to R. A. Long’s “planned city” of Longview, Washington. A shocking change for a country-bumpkin kid. He attended Catholic School in this pretentious mill town with its socially stratified culture of mill workers, overlords and timber barons. Catholic indoctrination led to the Franciscan Seminary. He survived into his 6th year at the college of San Luis Rey, CA, when love won out. This young man left the pursuit of the priestly vocation to pursue the woman he had dated since his fifteenth year. First collegiate in his family, he and his girl entered the daunting halls of . . .

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Review — PROJECT NAMAHANA by John Teschner (KENYA)

  Project Namahana by John Teschner (Kenya 2003-05) Forge Books 304 pages June 2022 $14,99 (Kindle); $27.99 (Hardback); $17.86 (audiobook) Review by  D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76) and (Costa Rica 1976-77) • Set on the island of Kaua’i, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian archipelago, this novel starts with the death of three local boys, apparently by drowning. The book is mostly narrated by the two main characters, Micah Bernt, a former military special forces soldier, living on Kaua’i, and Michael Lindstrom, an executive and former lead scientist for the Benevoment Seed Company, living in the Twin Cities. The book includes a lot of conversation in Hawaiian accents. This makes the narrative especially entertaining to read. Author John Teschner spent seven years living on the island of Kaua’i, so his use of Hawaiian words and phrases is authentic. Further, his descriptions of Hawaiian cultural situations adds a great deal to . . .

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16 New books by Peace Corps writers — May and June, 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a copy along with a few instructions. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third Goal . . .

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19 New books by Peace Corps writers — March and April, 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We now include a brief description  for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order a book and 2) to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a copy along with a few instructions. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third Goal . . .

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Review — JACKSON’S KENYA by Otto Wiegand (Kenya, Paraguay)

  PCV Life in Kenya Jackson’s Kenya: A Peace Corps Story Richard Otto Wiegand (Kenya 1970–74, Paraguay 1977–79) Independently published (www.safari-shamba-books.com), 2020 288 pages $25.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Robert E. Gribbin (Kenya 1968–70) • I have long been awaiting a good Peace Corps memoir from Kenya. At last, one arrived in author Wiegand’s remembering his years in Kenya in the early 1970s. Otto Wiegand was a dairy expert charged with improving animal husbandry in a half dozen of the Settlement Schemes in the trans-Nzoia region between Eldoret and Kitale. As do most memoirs this one follows a hazy chronological order. The author recounts some events or anecdotes from the ’70s and then updates them with a later observation or comment about how things changed or didn’t. His Kenyan history of what went on around him is broad brushed, and accurate. It is not hard for the reader to . . .

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SWAHILI ON THE PRAIRIE – A film by David Goldenberg (Kenya)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bob Gribbin (Kenya 1968-70)       David Goldenberg (Kenya 1968-70) has produced a documentary film about his  training group and service overseas. This training program was one of the last to be done in the U.S.  Goldenberg’s film premiered in North Dakota last January because that is where they trained and where it all began. You can find Swahili on the Prairie at Vimeo. After the Peace Corps, David received his PhD from Brown University in anthropology and then had a long career working for (primarily child-focused) NGOs.  He worked for Plan International for about 15 years and then was a consultant for Plan, CARE, Save the Children, and other agencies. He started making documentaries about 20 years ago.  In the build up to his group’s 50th anniversary in 2018, he decided to make a film about their experience.  He traveled around the . . .

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“The Other Kristen” by Kristen Roupenian (Kenya)

Thanks for a ‘heads up’ from Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94)     The Other Kristen Kristen Roupenian joined the Peace Corps to serve her fellow man, but she found herself trying to best the ultimate woman instead. • When I arrived in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) in 2003, I was the youngest in my group. Life in an unfamiliar culture can be infantilizing: You’re dependent on others to teach you basic skills (this is how you dress, wash, use the toilet), your new language reduces you to baby talk (“Please where bus please?”), and you end the day exhausted by the glut of information your puny brain has taken in. Still, at 21, I was adept at dependence and incompetence, and in this case my expertise served me well. I was assigned to a site in rural western Kenya that was affiliated with an orphans center named . . .

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Review — PORTRAITS OF INNOCENCE & SKETCHES OF JOY from Bie Bostrom (Kenya)

  Portraits of Innocence: The Children of Ahero Photographs by Bie E. Bostrom (Kenya  2004–06) CreateSpace May 2017 42 pages $20.00* (paperback)   Sketches of Joy: Drawings by the Children of Ahero, Kenya Collected by Bie E. Bostrom (Kenya 2004–06) CreateSpace September 2014 114 pages $25.00*  (paperback)   Review by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Born in 1941, Bie Bostrom was raised in a family of nine children in Antwerp, Belgium. She trained as a nurse, but she fell in love with photography after her father gave her a camera as a graduation gift. She took a five-year course in photography at an art school in The Netherlands, then went to London for her practical year, where she lived and worked for eight years. In 1977, Bie arrived in San Francisco where she met her husband while looking for a work studio. In 1980 the couple moved to New York and opened . . .

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Review: BREVITE´ by Stephen Mustoe (Kenya)

  Brevité: A Collection of Short Fiction Stephen Mustoe (Kenya 1983–84) Peace Corps Writers May 2016 132 pages $7.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Jane Albritton (India 1967–69) • MEMORY IS THE CORNERSTONE of Stephen Mustoe’s first collection of short fiction: Brevité. Sometimes the memories seem like they rightly belong to the author, sometimes not. But even when the source remains unclear, the quality of remembrance remains present. As with any collection of short fiction, a reader is likely to come away from the experience with favorites. I have. Actually, I have two favorite sets of stories that stand out from the others: a pair featuring the irrepressible Uncle Woody, and a quartet of stories that draw on Mustoe’s experiences in Africa, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and on later return visits. In “Dogfish Blues” and “Blind Faith,” Mustoe introduces Woody, a veteran Navy flier who knew how to get . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers — April 2016

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — Click on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? — Send a note to peacecorpsworldwide@gmail.com, and we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions.   Moon Colorado Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping (Travel) Joshua  Berman (Nicaragua 1998–2000) Avalon Travel Publishing April 2016 350 pages $19.99 (paperback) . • Blood Upon The Snow (A Novel of the American Revolution) Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) A Peace Corps Writers Book March, 2016 344 pages $14.95 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) • Lips Open and Divine (poetry) Matthew A. Hamilton (Armenia 2006–08; Philippines 2008–10) Winter Goose Publishing April . . .

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Christopher West Davis (Kenya) publishes AFRICAN WITCH

Christopher West Davis (Kenya 1975-78) is a journalist who lived in Kenya and now lives and works in the New York City at the China Daily. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest and other publications. In 2005, he was named Aerospace Journalist of the Year by the Royal Aeronautical Society (London). Katherine Stirling of The New Yorker called his previous book, Letters from Moritz Thomsen, “An utterly engrossing story… these marvelous letters and the attendant chronicle of the relationship that developed over their course is a story that is at once fascinating and quite moving, a hard balance to strike, in writing as in life.” Chris has a new book, a novel, entitled African Witch: A Modern Tale of Magical Harm. The write-up on Amazon for the book is: Kenya in its golden age, the safest, sexiest and most wildly popular playground in Africa. . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part III

What strikes me now rereading Girls At Play is how Theroux did not linger with prose on the beauty of Africa, as he has quite wonderfully uses his evocative skills in other books and essays. In those early books he does not wax and wane as RPCV writers tend to do (including myself) on descriptions of the landscape. In those three novels, he was more interested in the play of personalities in Africa than the lay of the land. Theroux’s third novel on Africa is Jungle Lovers which focuses on Malawi, looking at the changing political and social climate of the country. It came about because of what happened to him when he was teaching at the university in Kampala. “Jungle Lovers was the result of my departure from Africa,” Paul writes. “In 1968, after five years in Malawi and Uganda, my wife and I were attacked by rioting students . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II

Theroux’s first novel Waldo was a picaresque story of a young man who became a success as a writer. It sold around 4000 copies, which was impressive for a first novel, but did not generate enough money for Theroux to quit his day job. His second novel Fong and the Indians, was the first of many “African books” and it was his first book (of many) that dealt with the complexities of a changing Africa. The protagonist was a bungling anti-hero, Sam Fong, a Chinese Catholic grocer. It, too, had limited sales and while it had good reviews, especially in England, it didn’t make any best seller lists. Then came Girls at Play a year later. Paul would write about writing Girls at Play: “My future wife taught at a girls’ school in Kenya. While I was writing (Fong and the Indians), I courted her by driving hundreds of miles . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play

I have been working my way through a new collecting of short stories by Paul Theroux, Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published this September. Only one of the stories (so far) relates to his time in Africa. It is entitled, “I’m the Meat, You’re the Knife.” It is the last story in the collection. (Writers–or perhaps their editors–) selected the best stories for the first and last ones in any collection. I first read Girls At Play in the late Sixties. This novel was his third. His first book was Waldo (1967), next three were set in Africa. Fong and the Indians (1968), Girls at Play (1969), and Jungle Lovers (1971).  At the time, I remember reviewers were saying Theroux was ‘writing too fast,’ that he should slow down his publishing. At the same time Saturday Review called Fong and the Indians “a small masterpiece.”  (If he . . .

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