Foreign Service Writers

The March issue of the Foreign Service Journal covers the annual book fair and includes a call for FS-affiliated writers to submit news of forthcoming and recently published books for the November round up. Authors are also invited to submit work for review on this blog: I recently reviewed retired FSO James F. O’Callaghan’s No Circuses. See below.

No Circuses

From the FSJ

The American Foreign Service Association hosted its 2nd Annual Book Market on Nov. 19 at AFSA headquarters. This year, 21 Foreign Service authors were onhand, showcasing their talents and sharing their experiences with attendees.

Participating authors drew a diverse crowd ranging from Foreign Service retirees to active-duty colleagues and university students interested in the Foreign Service as a future career. Book genres fell into a wide range of categories, such as cooking, fantasy and fiction, policy, photography, memoirs, children’s books, history and biographies.

fsj bookfairWe’re already looking forward to this year’s roundup! If you have a book coming out in 2016 (or had one published in late 2015), please send us a copy for inclusion in the November 2016 edition of “In Their Own Write.” Questions about the process should be sent to Editorial Assistant Shannon Mizzi at mizzi@afsa.org.


Foreign Service Fiction Review: No Circuses

Anyone who thinks diplomacy is about choosing the right fork at the right time should think again and read James F. O’Callaghan’s clever satire No Circuses (Tacchino Press, 2015).

Forget preconceived notions of dinner-party diplomacy: keeping one’s elbows off the table, tangoing the rival into submission, and writing it up the next day in communiqués to DC. What diplomacy’s really about, in O’Callaghan’s world, is stopping that counter-productive visit by a lackluster VIP, infiltrating explosives via circus caravan past a military brigade, and joining a secessionist movement to secure the most coveted rank of all: Ambassador.

Diplomacy, here, is accepting the maxim that “Absurdity is demeaning only if one refuses to incorporate it.” Absurdity exists in abundance in O’Callaghan’s world, and by its sheer abundance O’Callaghan honors rather than mocks the men and women of the Foreign Service and the State Department.

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