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Book Club

PPCA Book Club

PPCA’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! Since 2010, we have hosted over 40 different authors – in person, by phone, or via video.

Here are our next book discussions:


April 2023 Book Club Selection

Soyinka, Wole*: Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth (2021)

* 1986 Nobel Literature Prize

Discussion: Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 6:30-8:00 pm. Hosted by Peggy McClure, 5480 SW 18th Dr in Portland. Feel free to bring snacks to share. Zoom is an option for those who can't make it; click on or go to, enter meeting ID 896 2949 6408 and passcode 181502.

Review: ©Publishers Weekly: Nobel Prize winner Soyinka's first novel in almost 50 years (after the essay collection Beyond Aesthetics) delivers a sharp-edged satire of his native Nigeria. The tone is set early, as an omniscient narrator caustically refers to the country as the home of "the Happiest People in the World," a status bolstered by a Nigerian governor's creation of "a Ministry of Happiness," to be led by the governor's spouse. Soyinka presents a dizzying array of characters and plotlines to bolster the notion that his country's "success" is a facade built on corruption and lies. This is perhaps best illustrated by the story line involving Dr. Kighare Menka, a surgeon particularly adept at treating the victims of terror attacks. Menka's approached by representatives of Primary Resources Management, dedicated to combating waste by maximizing "human resources." Menka learns that behind the slogans is a business plan to obtain body parts for an affluent clientele, and that he's viewed as a steady source for the limbs and organs the venture needs. Soyinka injects suspense as well with a whodunit plot. Those with a solid grounding in current Nigerian politics are most likely to pick up on allusions to events and personalities that will elude the lay reader. Still, the imaginatively satirical treatment of serious issues makes this engaging on multiple levels.

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


May 2023 Book Club Selection

Alharthi, Jokha, and Marilyn Booth: Celestial Bodies* (2010/2019)

* 2019 Booker International Prize

Discussion: Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 7:00-8:30 pm. Hosted by Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. 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. Zoom is an option for those who can't make it; click on or go to, enter meeting ID 890 5446 6810 and passcode 393833.

Review: ©Publishers Weekly: Alharthi's ambitious, intense novel--her first to be translated into English and winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize--examines the radical changes in Oman over the past century from the perspectives of the members of several interconnected families. With exhilarating results, Alharthi throws the reader into the midst of a tangled family drama in which unrequited love, murder, suicide, and adultery seem the rule rather than the exception. She moves between the stream-of-consciousness musings and memories of businessman Abdallah as he flies to Frankfurt and vignettes from the lives of those in his family, the slaves who raised him under the rule of his abusive father, and the members of the large family he married into. These include, among many others, a wife who apparently loves her sewing machine more than him, her two conflicted sisters, a father-in-law conducting a torrid love affair with a Bedouin woman, and an unhappy physician daughter. The scenes establish the remarkable contrasts among the generations, whose members are united primarily by a fierce search for romantic love. The older generation has grown up with strict rules and traditions, the younger generation eats at McDonald's and wears Armani jeans, and the members of the middle generation, particularly the women, are caught between expectations and aspirations. The novel rewards readers willing to assemble the pieces of Alharthi's puzzle into a whole, and is all the more satisfying for the complexity of its tale.

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


June 2023 Book Club Selection

Leng'ete, Nice: The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How I Fought to Save Myself, My Sister, and Thousands of Girls Worldwide (2021)

Discussion: Tuesday, June 20, 2023, 6:30-8:00 pm. Hosted by Paul and Susie Robillard, 5405 NW Deerfield Way in Portland. Feel free to bring snacks to share. Zoom is an option for those who can't make it; click on or go to, enter meeting ID 882 1551 8326 and passcode 657619.

Review: ©Kirkus: An inspirational memoir from a human rights activist who has devoted her life to fighting female genital mutilation. The author is a member of the Maasai tribe, born in the small Kenyan town of Kimana, and she evocatively explores the culture of her people. Historically, Maasai men are known as fierce warriors who protect their people and animals, while Maasai women serve as the caregivers of the house and children. A community bound by tradition, they live in hand-built circular homes and raise cattle as the primary food source. When they are young, children have one of their cheeks branded by a hot coil of wire; the scab creates a circle that serves as "a special symbol to mark us as Maasai." When it was Leng'ete's turn, she ran away, and she "still [has] no marks." Another tradition is referred to as "the cut." During this ceremony, the women subject the young females to a procedure in which their clitoris is either cut or removed completely—without anesthesia. Leng'ete refused to undergo FGM. "I loved my family. I loved my people. But this, I thought, was wrong," she explains. "Tradition can be good. Tradition can be beautiful. But some traditions deserve to die." Following her defiant act, she was shunned. With urgent, shocking, and heartbreaking detail, Leng'ete brings readers into her life. Beginning her work with the African Medical and Research Foundation when she was still a teenager, she found her calling. Armed with scientific evidence about the significant health risks associated with FGM, Leng'ete returned to her community in hopes of instilling change. Due in part to her relentless efforts, tribal leaders "changed the Maasai constitution to reflect our commitment to end FGM." Leng'ete was also awarded the black walking stick, a symbol of leadership not normally given to women. She went on to campaign globally, including building A Nice Place in Kimana, "a safe haven for girls fleeing FGM." An incredibly powerful story that offers real hope for the future.

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


Most of our books are selected by an annual survey, featuring books widely available in local libraries. We schedule additional discussions when an author of a non-self-published book offers to meet with us. If you are interested in learning more about PPCA’s Book Club, please contact Bill Stein, at 503-830-0817 or