March 2019 Book Club Selection

The Beach at Galle Road
Luloff, Joanna*: The Beach at Galle Road: Stories from Sri Lanka (2012)

* RPCV Sri Lanka (1996-1998)

Discussion: Thursday, March 28, 2019, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Joanna Luloff, the book’s author, in person. 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. Note date change to accommodate the author’s appearance.

Review: © Kirkus Review: In her debut, Luloff weaves a montage of stories into a cohesive whole as she explores the roles of tradition and family and the destructive power of war through the lives of each character. With simplicity, the author, a former Peace Corps volunteer, gives voices to those who’ve been touched, however remotely, by a conflict that lasted for decades and destroyed the fabric of a country. Mohan, Janaki and their two daughters live a comfortable family-oriented life in Baddegama, a village in southern Sri Lanka, and pay scant attention to the struggle occurring between Tamil insurgents and the Sinhalese government. The skirmishes are taking place in the northern section of their country, so it’s had little impact on their lives. But not so for Lakshmi, Janaki’s older sister: Her husband, Sunil, a Tamil sympathizer, disappeared from the streets of Colombo in 1987, and now Lakshmi is returning to her family, a person incontrovertibly different from the girl Janaki once knew. Peace Corps volunteer Sam, a boarder in Janaki’s home, falls in love with a student from the north and insists on staying in the country even though his visiting parents pressure him to leave. And other volunteers, whether for altruistic reasons, adventure or escape, journey to Sri Lanka to find purpose or refuge along the beautiful beaches or in mountain retreats. Like Lucy, who manages an International Aid rest home, some discover that fulfilling a desire for adventure can lead to witnessing unimaginable horrors. Perhaps the most affecting tale is the story of Nilanthi, a brilliant young teaching candidate and the object of volunteer Sam’s love. When the violence causes her program to shut down, she returns home to her parents, three brothers and best friend, Sunitha. What follows is a study of societal barriers, family dynamics and individual strength. Each story is subtly presented and, for the most part, disturbingly believable.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

November 2018 Book Club Selection

Writing Abroad
Chilson, Peter*, and Joanne B. Mulcahy: Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers** (2017)

* RPCV Niger (1985-1987)

** 2018 Peace Corps Worldwide Best Travel Book

Discussion: Thursday, November 8, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Mimi Sanders, 318 SW Palatine Hill Rd (big yellow church) in Portland, 503-293-6195. Participating in our discussion will be Peter Chilson and Joanne B. Mulcahy, the book’s authors. This will be a joint gathering of CRPCA’s Book Club and Writers Workshop.

Synopsis: “Tell me all about your trip!” It’s a request that follows travelers as they head out into the world, and one of the first things they hear when they return. When we leave our homes to explore the wider world, we feel compelled to capture the experiences and bring the story home. But for those who don’t think of themselves as writers, putting experiences into words can be more stressful than inspirational. Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers is meant for travelers of all backgrounds and writing levels: a student embarking on overseas study; a retiree realizing a dream of seeing China; a Peace Corps worker in Kenya. All can benefit from documenting their adventures, whether on paper or online. Through practical advice and adaptable exercises, this guide will help travelers hone their observational skills, conduct research and interviews, choose an appropriate literary form, and incorporate photos and videos into their writing. Writing about travel is more than just safeguarding memories—it can transform experiences and tease out new realizations. With Writing Abroad, travelers will be able to deepen their understanding of other cultures and write about that new awareness in clear and vivid prose.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

October 2018 Book Club Selection

Tales of Family Travel
Dixon, Kay Gillies*: Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World** (2016)

* RPCV Colombia (1962-1964)

** 2017 Peace Corps Worldwide 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.

Where to find it:
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble