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Disturbance-Loving Species

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Peter Chilson’s fiction debut delivers a fascinating, heart-wrenching view of modern African culture, filtered through the lens of the West. In a novella and four short stories, Chilson, who traveled to Africa first as a Peace Corps volunteer and later as a freelance journalist, uses a phrase borrowed from biology to point out how our “disturbance-loving species” thrives i ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 9th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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To meet Peter Chilson is to learn his love of Africa. Some might even call it an obsession, but it's far from a horrible one.

I personally had the opportunity to hear him read a draft of the last short story in the collection, Toumani Ogun, in an advanced creative writing workshop. He read it to illustrate a point, every last one of us believe him to be the narrator of the story, believe the story to be nonfiction.

Disturbance-Loving Species is a collection of stories of Africa and America, stori
This is strong collection of short fiction that--full disclosure--won the Bakeless Prize for fiction the year before my first book did. Chilson draws upon his experiences in Africa (Peace Corps, journalism) to give vivid portraits of the interaction between western and African culture. While occasionally the voices seem to drop into a very non-fictional mode (i.e., when Chilson wants to give us background information) the sentences throughout reflect the tension of the entire book. Some of my fa ...more
Jan 28, 2008 Ellen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foreign aid workers, RPCV's
Chilson is writing about a period and area of Africa that was totally foreign to me. Yet there are overriding themes so universal to the 'muzungu' African experience that I could relate to many of the characters in his stories. The novella ("Tea With Soldiers") was filled with political upheaval and undeserved violence, and it still made me long to go back. Chilson's characters struggle with the divide that exists between trying to "find" yourself and doing something useful for people in need... ...more
Disturbance-Loving Species is a collection that contains a novella and several short stories. All of the stories take place in either West Africa or America and have characters from both cultures, thus the theme of the stories is the tension experienced as the characters attempt to navigate their way through another culture.

I didn't find the stories to be incredibly engaging, nor the characters very intriguing or well-developed. Many of the descriptions of African culture seemed over-generalized
Whew, what a set of great stories. I loved the one that opens with an African soil scientist cooking a goat head behind the lilacs in the back yard of his apartment in somewhere very much like La Grande, Oregon. I loved all of them. This is worth seeking out if you are interested in the relationship between the West and Africa, between people coming from very different kinds of places and trying to make sense of their connection. I am going to look for his other book now too.
April Conway
It is an interesting book - was written by a Peace Corps volunteer. Has stories about Niger in it, but it's a Niger I never knew!! A violent one...
Sep 21, 2008 Jane added it
Recommends it for: African RPCVs
Recommended to Jane by: RPCV writers
I liked the short stories much better than the novella.
Okay-- but a bit random.
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