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The Village of Waiting.

The Village of Waiting. George Packer. Vintage, $8. 95. Soon after arriving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo in 1982, Packe"the feeling of being trapped, vulnerable, in a place where nothing had any meaning and I had none to provide." Out in the village of Lavie, where he teaches English in a middle school, "each class met me with the same blank, puzzled, or amused stares." His own efforts-raising the level of English, helping promote latrines-seem to him practically worthless, though some readers will disagree. What Packer is good at is using an often novelistic approach to catch the paranoia of an isolated volunteer's life and the moral ambiguity of, say, "fairness." Is it fairer for an official to promote a well-qualified teacher than to promote a less-qualified friend when, as everyone knows, to fail to help a friend would be immoral, a betrayal? Packer has no solutions to the questions of African development, but his description of the problem is stark and loving.

Richard Lipez
COPYRIGHT 1989 Washington Monthly Company
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Lipez, Richard
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Words:168
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