Writers From the Peace Corps: The Lost Generation, Part Eleven

The Great “Peace Corps Novel”
Several former Volunteers have written novels that come directly from their own experiences. The first of these “Peace Corps novel” by a PCV is Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. A third of that 1988 novel is set in Cameroon, where Smith served. In 1991 Richard Wiley published Festival for Three Thousand Maidens, a novel about a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea – Wiley’s country of assignment. Leaving Losapas by Roland Merullo, also published in 1991, is about the life of a Volunteer in Micronesia where Merullo served. Marnie Mueller’s first novel, Green Fires: Assault on Eden, A Novel of the Ecuadorian Rain-Forest, published in 1994, is about a PCV who returns to Ecuador with her new husband.

Other Peace Corps-centered novels are Craig Carozzi’s The Road to El Dorado (1997), Susana Herrera’s Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let Me Be in My Skin(1999), Tom Hazuka’s In the City of the Disappeared(2000), William Amos’s The Seed of Joy (2000) and dozens of other novels written about the Peace Corps experience.

In his fiction, Paul Theroux has used the character of a “volunteer” in several books, including his third novel, Girls At Play (1969), set in upcountry East Africa, and has written more extensively about himself as a “Peace Corps character” in My Secret History (1984) and My Other Life (1996).

Maria Thomas used Peace Corps Volunteers as characters in several of her stories in the collection, Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage and Other Stories,published in 1987; Kathleen Coskran did the same in The High Price of Everything, also published in 1987.

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