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The cover of Assistant Peter Orner’s new novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, featuring a red curtain blowing into an empty room.Out of Africa

Set in Namibia, Africa, Peter Orner's first novel, "The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo" (Little, Brown and Company, 2006), introduces readers to the inhabitants of Goas, "an all-boys boarding school so far in the veld even the baboons feel sorry for [them]."

Orner, an assistant professor of creative writing, drew inspiration from his experience teaching in the same remote setting in the early 1990s. He based the central character, Mavala Shikongo, on two real-life female teachers who were combat veterans of Namibia's long war for independence.

San Francisco writer Dave Eggers calls Shikongo "one of the most deftly rendered and unforgettable characters in recent fiction. The men of Goas fall in love with her and the reader is helpless, too."

In April, following the book's publication, Orner was named a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow. His previous honors include the Pushcart Prize and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Orner's writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review and "The Best American Short Stories."

-- Adrianne Bee


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