Literary Type

November 2001

    River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler (China 1996–98) has just been awarded the 2001 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize in the nonfiction category. The announcement was made on Saturday, October 20, at the 14th annual Vancouver International Writers Festival. Hessler will share the $30,000 prize with fiction winner, Patricia Grace of New Zealand.

  • Among the thousands and thousands of prose pieces written about the September 11 attack is a thoughtful piece by George Packer (Togo 1982–83) that appeared in The New York Times Magazine published September 30. The piece entitled, “Recapturing The Flag” is on how a generation of liberal skeptics now know the deep emotions of patriotism. Writes Packer — author most recently of Blood of the Liberals — “My political views haven’t changed since Sept. 11. Even as the sight of other people’s flags stirred me, I did not go out and buy my own. Some part of me still shrinks from the display of patriotism, as if it would violate the emotions itself. I don’t desire war — but I know that patriotic feeling makes individuals exceed themselves as the bland comforts of peace cannot.”

  • William McCauley (Sierra Leone 1985–87) has won this year’s William Peden Prize in Fiction, given by The Missouri Review. McCauley won the award for his story “Mister Henry’s Trousers,” which appeared in the popular Knopf Files issue of The Missouri Review. McCauley’s stories have also appeared in Confrontation and Geraldine Kennedy’s anthology From the Center of the Earth. His novel, The Turning Over, was published by The Permanent Press in 1998.
         The William Peden Prize in Fiction is named for a founding editor of The Missouri Review, the literary magazine of the University of Missouri–Columbia. The annual prize awards $1000 cash to the best work of fiction published in the previous volume year of the magazine. Selected by an outside judge of national reputation, the winner is invited to travel to Columbia, Missouri, to meet with the editors of the magazine and attend a reception in his or her honor. This year’s judge was Alice McDermott.

  • The Kennedy Men 1901-1963 by Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965–67) appeared on The New York Times extended bestseller as #31, three days after publication. The book has also been receiving wonderful reviews. Reviewer Joe Sciacca in The Boston Herald on Sunday, October 21 summed it up best by writing, “With all that’s been written about the Kennedys, it’s hard to imagine that you could fill a book with what we don’t know about America’s most remarkable political family. But Laurence Leamer has done it with his new work, The Kennedy Men: 1901–1963.” Sciacca goes onto say, “The Kennedy Men is a fine work of research — and an absorbing read as well.”

  • Charles Michener (Ethiopia 1962–64) senior editor of The New Yorker has a long piece in the November 12 issue on soprano Renee Fleming who sang recently at Ground Zero for the memorial service for families of victims of the World Trade Center. Fleming is the biggest-selling soprano in the world today, and among female singers her record sales are eclipsed only by those of the mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

  • Since September 11, getting on a plane or a train seems a lot more complicated. Travel & Leisure Magazine, in their December issue, asked a series of writers about traveling now. One of the writers was Peter Hessler  (China 1996–98) who wrote about flying recently from Beijing to Wenzhou, in the south of China, and then back to Beijing. Hessler also reflected on travel he did in post-Communist countries in 1993 and how he is still traveling the world.
         Peter has an article at the Travel & Leisure website dated 9/1/01 entitled “Chongqing, China: City of the Future.”