Peace Corps Writers
July 2000
Go to In This Issue for links to all the new articles in this issue of

In Resources you will find our Bibliography of Peace Corps writers and other resources including links that might be of interest.

In the Archives you will find back issues of Peace Corps Writers, and all of our award winners.

Writers & Readers Roundtable
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Our Writing Awards

EVERY YEAR SINCE 1990, RPCV Writers & Readers and now have been giving awards for the best books written by RPCVs that were published during the previous year. The awards include: the Paul Cowan Nonfiction Award, named in honor of journalist Paul Cowan (Ecuador 1966–67), the Maria Thomas Fiction Award, named in honor of novelist Maria Thomas (Ethiopia 1971–73), and the Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award. We usually have a Peace Corps Experience Award for an outstanding one-page essay, but unfortunately this year there was no winner.

Nonfiction Award
Winner Nonfiction Award is Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let Me Be in My Skin by Susana Herrera (Cameroon 1992-94).
     In a review in the November, 1999 issue of, Paula Hirschoff called Mango Elephants, Herrera’s first book, “a spiritual journey from self doubt, fear and anger to acceptance and forgiveness.”
     Writing in, another reader says, “After reading the book I went to northern Cameroon in March 2000 on a humanitarian mission with the Air Force. It was just coincidence that I went to the same general area as the book. Reading this book gave me a greater understanding of the people and culture. Everything in the book rang true, the poverty, the close families, the emphasis on class, the small town doctors, and the basic generosity of the people. Her honest narrative and personal approach to her subject is unmatched. I felt her friendship and frustration. Her friends became my friends and it left me wishing for an undate on how they are today. This is a book about two years of a person’s life. Cameroon and the Peace Corps are just the framework. Her writing was so vivid I now would read anything by her no matter what the subject.”

Fiction Award
The fiction award goes to Saviors by Paul Eggers (Malaysia 1976–78).
     Jane Smiley, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle, says of the novel, “Saviors does beautifully exactly what a novel is best equipped to do, which is to show something large and true with tools that are detailed and specific. Eggers is a first novelist of rare taste and intelligence as well as rare experience.”

Poetry Award
The poetry award goes to Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1964–66) for his collection The Deathbed Playboy. Dacey’s five previous books of poetry include The Boy Under the Bed, and The Man With Red Suspenders. He co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms. The latest of his many chapbooks is What’s Empty Weights the Most: 24 Sonnets.
Widely published in periodicals and anthologies, Dacey teaches at the Minnesota State University in Marshall. His awards include two NEA fellowships, two Pushcart Prizes, Bush and Loft-McKnight fellowships, and a Fulbright Lectureship in Yugoslavia, as well as prizes from Poetry Northwest, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, Flyway, and The Nebraska Review.
     Our congratulations to these fine writers.

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