The London Embassy

What to read this week? Paul Theroux’s The London Embassy, of course! This day in history U.S. diplomacy with England took over a new location. Our landmark perch in Grosvenor Square is no more. I visited the location once---an aside to the controversy going on right now, and one that makes this move feel deeply … Continue reading The London Embassy

The Mess We’re In

Only in our currently defiled situation could an unpaid intern have the gall and patience to assert moral power... This month's Foreign Service Journal features an incisive review of Patchworks by author and retired Foreign Service Officer Dan Whitman. Generous praise from a great writer. Dan served as French interpreter for the  State Department's International … Continue reading The Mess We’re In

Uncle Sam, Matchmaker

Pleased to share some new non-fiction of mine up at American Diplomacy. I pictured myself in a Peace Corps-issue hammock on an island somewhere, or crossing high glaciers in the glaring Himalayan sun. Then the recruiter called and offered Malawi. Pointless to remind her what I'd written where the application asked my preference: 'Anywhere but Africa.' … Continue reading Uncle Sam, Matchmaker

11:15 06-Dec-04

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=33&v=wWWxlbspbOs The next-to-last time I saw Mohamed—11:15, Dec 6, 2004—a blast-resistant window separated me from the Afghan businessman with good English, admiration for the U.S., and a carpet enterprise in Virginia. The last applicant of the morning at our visa counter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Mohamed was alone in the waiting room when the high-low alarm … Continue reading 11:15 06-Dec-04

Foreign Service, Under Covers

DC-area writers, consider stopping by the American Foreign Service Association for this year's book market featuring a talk on writing and publishing from 25-year veteran literary agent and editor Deborah Grosvenor. Two dozen Foreign Service-affiliated authors will also be there with their latest work. Find out what publishers are looking for when it comes to writing … Continue reading Foreign Service, Under Covers

The Annapolis Bookstore

A short block from Maryland's historic State House, down a white brick street narrow with specialty shops, The Annapolis Bookstore is exactly what a bookstore ought to be: jammed with literature, old and new, on shelves that climb from creaking wood floor to high plaster ceiling. Close with the antiquated must of well-turned pages, yet … Continue reading The Annapolis Bookstore

Swamp Talk

Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

Among the 53 titles compiled in this Month's Foreign Service Journal is Dan Whitman's Answer Coming Soon. Whatever else it provides to those who read it, Answer undeniably will provide this: a reflection on the power of books. The power is especially profound for those who spend their lives in places where electricity can be spotty … Continue reading Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

The Polyglot Archipelago

Seven islands form the area now called Mumbai (Bombay until 1995). Marathi, Hindi, and English are just a few of the languages spoken there, including Bambaiva, a blend of Gujarati, Konkani, Urdu, Indian English, and more. Its home to 18.5 million, India’s most populous city. Rudyard Kipling, Salman Rushdie, and Fareed Zakaria all were born … Continue reading The Polyglot Archipelago

The Paneless Window Washer

The air and leaves outside turn to fall. In the week ahead we'll celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Navrathri, and the official start of Autumn. I'll hold the first book discussion for my debut novel, 18 months old already. My Foreign Service colleagues and I will start the annual ritual of progress into new jobs, new countries, … Continue reading The Paneless Window Washer