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Two RPCVs were finalists for the 43rd annual National Magazine Awards — the magazine industry’s highest honor. 
Named after the Alexander Calder Stabile “Elephant,” the 2008 “Ellies” had a record-setting 1,964 entries from 333 print and online magazines. Twenty-five winners were announced at a gala event on May 1, at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall.
In Public Interest category that “recognizes journalism that sheds new light on an issue of public importance and has the potential to affect national or local debate policy, George Packer (Togo 1982–83) was nominated for his article that appeared on March 26, 2007, “Betrayed” in The New Yorker.
     In the Reporting category that “recognizes excellence in reporting— the enterprise, exclusive reporting and intelligent analysis that a magazine exhibits in covering an event, a situation or a problem of contemporary interest and significance,” among the nominees was “China’s Instant Cities” written by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) published in National Geographic in June, 2007.

. . .

We’re happy to report that Peter Hessler did win for his piece on China. Well, one out of two ain’t bad!

Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) who wrote An American Affair, a collection of stories that won the 2004 George Garret Fiction Prize has a new story, “The Boy Behind The Tree” in the April 2008 issue of The Sun. Mark lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, with his wife and two daughters, and teaches creative writing at West Virginia University. Mark is also the author of The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala that won the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 1998. He is also winner of the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award presented by Peace Corps Writes.

Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (Tanzania 1989–91) was a recent author-in-residence at the International Community School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she gave presentations and conducted workshops.
     Writing as S.A. Bodeen, Stephanie’s young adult novel The Compound has been nominated for the 2009 Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) list. Kirkus in an early review writes that the novel is “suspenseful and riveting . .  . and raises serious issues about what it means to survive.”

John Evans ( Bangladesh 1999–01), who was a Fulbright Hays Fellow in India and a teacher in Romania, is one of five poets (and five fiction writers) awarded the prestigious Stanford Creative Writing Program’s Wallace Stegner Fellowship. He was selected from 1,438 applicants from the United States and 15 foreign countries. Many of John’s poems reflect his extensive travel. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern and an MFA in poetry from Florida International University.
The two-year fellowship program, named after novelist and Creative Writing Program founder Wallace Stegner, covers tuition and health insurance and provides each of the fellows with a $26,000-per-year stipend. This year’s crop of fellows will start at Stanford in the autumn.

Christopher Chan Huh (Niger 1994-97) has an essay from his forthcoming memoir on his time in Niger published in an anthology Open Windows III published by Ghost Road Press, an independent literary press based in Colorado. Check out This is a first class publishing press.

Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex that is being published in June has a short short story by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Camaroon 1965-67).
     And speaking of dirt (if not dirty), in July, Mary-Ann’s next novel, Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery will be coming out. This is the first of a new series that she is writing with her son Jere, who is first, last, and always a Boston fan.
West of Last Chance by Peter Brown and Kent Haruf (Turkey 1965–67) was recently published by W.W. Norton & Company. As Kent writes in his new collaboration with photographer Peter Brown, “You have to know how to look at this country. You have to slow down. It isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.”
     Haruf, who has made the West his literary landscape, has not published anything (to my knowledge) about Turkey where he served as a PCV. His teaching career was spent mostly in southern Illinois where he was on the English faculty of Southern Illinois University. Today he lives in Colorado where he has set his novels in the fictional high plains town of Holt, Colorado. Kent won the 1990 RPCV Writers & Readers’ Maria Thomas Fiction Award for his novel Where You Once Belonged.

On June 5, Tony D’Souza (Cote d’Ivoire 2000–02; Madagascar 2002–03) will give a talk at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington. The talk — which is open to the public — is from noon to 1 p.m. in the Old Office Pavillion, 1st Floor 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW between 11th and 12th.
Tony will be talking about writing and his two novels, Whiteman and The Konkans. His new novel, The Konkans, is a love story set against the little known and real Goan (Konkan) Inquisition in India — instituted by St. Francis Xavier, which lasted 252 years and burned hundreds of thousands of Hindus at the Catholic stake — and is drawn from Tony’s family history. Tony’s mother was a PCV (India 1966–68) and met Tony’s father while serving overseas.
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