CRPCA’s Book Club gatherings are open to all who have read that month’s book. Typically we start out discussing the book, and inevitably someone relates a theme in the book to their own experiences or other readings, so the conversation takes an interesting turn. Our Book Club discusses books of broad interest set in parts of the world in which Peace Corps Volunteers have served, or books which were authored by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). We love author appearances! Between 2010 and 2018, we hosted 32 different authors – in person, by phone, or via Skype.
Here are our next three book discussions:
D’Souza, Tony*: Whiteman** (2006)
* RPCV Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar 2000-2003
** 2007 Maria Thomas Fiction Award
Discussion: Tuesday, August 7, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the floating home of Liz Samuels, 3737 NE Marine Dr in Portland. Someone will be there to let people in the Rose City Yacht Club’s gate from 6:15 to 6:30. At 6:30 we will walk together to the venue. Call 503-701-6218 if you arrive later. Participating in our discussion will be Tony D’Souza, the book’s author. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Review: © Booklist: Jack Diaz is a young American relief worker in a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast, part of an endeavor to bring potable water to the impoverished villagers. As it becomes more and more apparent that he cannot achieve his original goal, he drifts into various projects from hunting to farming to teaching villagers about AIDS prevention to taking up ill–advised love affairs. Tensions between Muslims and Christians mount and add to the layers of cultural and political nuances that Jack struggles to understand. Christened Whiteman by the villagers, who believe him capable of magic by virtue of his white skin, Jack feels his whiteness more than he ever has in his life. As he penetrates the culture–but never achieves complete integration–he discovers a people not as simple and uncomplicated as he had thought. With war threatening to hasten the end of his three-year commitment, Jack’s affection for the region and the people heightens, and he seeks forgiveness for his privilege and ineffectiveness.
Thomas, Maria*: Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, and Other Stories (1987)
* RPCV Ethiopia 1971-1973
Discussion: Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Paul and Susie Robillard, 5405 NW Deerfield Way in Portland, 503-430-1776. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Review: © The New York Times: In Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, Ms. Thomas gives us a group of stories about…Peace Corps volunteers, foreign academics and Agency for International Development advisers, Indians and white hunters left behind by colonial empire, American blacks looking for a place where blackness is the norm. These people don’t belong to Africa. Most have come here with the purpose of doing good, curing disease or famine or inventing consistent technical vocabularies where language hasn’t caught up to imported technology. Others came, as expatriates always have, to be saved from some sickness of the soul – they seek a witch-doctor cure of one alienation by another.
Dixon, Kay Gillies*: Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World** (2016)
* RPCV Colombia (1962-1964)
** Winner of 2017 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Travel Book
Discussion: Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Kay Dixon, the book’s author, via Skype. On-street parking in downtown Portland is free beginning at 7:00 pm. Upon arrival, call 503-780-2722 to be buzzed in, then turn right into the building’s lobby and then take an immediate left into the community room. Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Synopsis: Parents Kevin and Kay Dixon have always had a passion for travel that they love to share with their four daughters. In the late 1970s, a contract for Kevin to work in Saudi Arabia, that came with family benefits and a lucrative travel package, landed on their doorstep in an American suburb. The Dixons could not pack their bags fast enough. This was their opportunity to provide two fundamental values to their offspring — roots and wings. During their travels, the Dixons chose to spend little time wandering through archaic cathedrals, but looked beyond featured attractions for experiences to imprint into their children’s memories. Readers may find themselves holding their breaths or giggling as the family’s adventures unfold in Tales of Family Travel. Admittedly, successful globetrotting with young girls required patience and special considerations. Among them — always one daughter needed to use a bathroom, and never at a convenient time or place, and more often than not, it was the author who spent time searching for acceptable WCs or loos. Kay narrates this story with finesse and descriptions that take you along on a journey that includes travel by many means and experiences that including meeting a Baba in Nepal, checking out a diamond shop in The Netherlands, visiting a Maasai village in Kenya and more.
Most of our books are selected by an annual survey; the next one is being conducted NOW! We schedule additional books when an author offers to meet with us. If you are interested in learning more about CRPCA’s Book Club, please contact Bill Stein, at 503-830-0817 or bookclub AT crpca.org.