|Literary Type: January 2008
A new publication from Quito, Ecuador, is out with a scholarly look at Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 196466). It is the online publication LiberArte, from the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito. The link is: www.usfq.edu.ec/liberarte/04/english.html
Bill Moseley (Mali 198789) and Paul Laris (Mali 198789) have just published an article in Geographical Review. The article speaks to a literature on environmental narratives in West Africa (mainly in geography, history and anthropology) and explores the potential role of volunteer development workers in perpetuating such ideas. More specifically, it examines the factors that led to the questioning or non-questioning of environment-development discourses and their influence, if any, on the actual work undertaken by Peace Corps Volunteers in Mali in the late 1980s. The writers also explore the role that the development volunteer experience subsequently had in shaping their own research as academics. While some interpret this article as a critique of Peace Corps, they actually see it as an endorsement of Peace Corps’ bottom-up philosophy as, at the end of the day, villager perceptions were given priority. The reference is: Moseley, W.G. and P. Laris. 2008. “West African Environmental Narratives and Development-Volunteer Praxis.” Geographical Review. 98(1): 59-81.
Paul Karrer (Western Samoa 197880) has had another story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. This time in Love Stories. His story “Vegetable or Fruit” is about a little Korean confusion regarding the status of tomatoes and breakfast cereals.
On February 6, 2008, George Packer’s (Togo 198283) play “Betrayed” about a group of Iraqi translators opened at the Culture Project in SoHo in New York City. The play was adapted by George from a 16,000-word article he wrote last year for The New Yorker. In the article George detailed the ordeals facing Iraqi translators, who have been hunted, tortured and killed by insurgents. And he showed how their pleas for help were met by indifference from the very American officials for whom they were risking their lives. [In 2007 the U.S. admitted about 1,600 Iraqi refugees, a small fraction of whom had been American employees. At the same time, Sweden, who is not involved in Iraq, admitted 20,000 Iraqi refugees.]
The early reviews of Tony D’Souza’s (Cote d’Ivoire 200002; Madagascar 200203) novel, The Konkans, have been great: a starred review in Publishers Weekly, a starred review in Library Journal, and now a full-page lead rave review in Entertainment Weekly. The book and Tony get a full page in EW and a grade of A-. The reviewer writes, “What he has created with an appealingly unfashionable simplicity of language is a rich, warm, personal yarn, bright with a pride and love . . .. THE KONKANS is D’Souza’s own roar in the crowd, an affectionate exploration of personal identity in order to make sense of conflicting parts and thus become whole in a multicultural world. In this Age of Obama, the search couldn’t be more timely, nor the result more gratifying.”
Fred Kluge (Micronesia 196769) arrived in Saipan in 1967. He was a 25-year-old PCV and went to work as a Volunteer editing a magazine called the Micronesian Reporter. “I traveled freely and interviewed people. I suppose you can say that I got hooked. And I swore, when I left, that I would come back.” He was back last month and spoke on January 25th at the Visitor’s Center Theater of the American Memorial Park. Over 100 people came to hear him talk about Saipan and the islands where he was a Volunteer. He has been to the Commonwealth several times over the years. Kluge, now 66, talk was entitled “Writing on Saipan, writing about Saipan.”