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How I Survived Forbidden Love, Bad Behavior, and the Peace Corps in Fiji

by Will Lutwick

Pub Date: May 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1935925118
Publisher: Peace Corps Writers

Lutwick recounts being 22 years old and finding love while based at a Fijian outpost of the Peace Corps.

It was 1968, and Lutwick had graduated from the University of Michigan with an MBA. Unable to find work in corporate America, the author stumbled into the Peace Corps. He was sent to Fiji, where he faced an unlikely battle of his own: a taboo love affair. At that time in the Fiji Islands, an Indian woman caught having sexual relations with a non-Indian man, or any man other than her husband, could face death at the hands of her own people. Despite the risks, Lutwick fell in love with Rani, an Indian woman who worked in the same office. They carried on an illicit affair, beating the odds of social convention. In his beautifully written memoir, Lutwick interweaves hilarious childhood anecdotes with sadder commentaries of his life. His parents died within two years of each other, leaving him orphaned at the age of 10. Jewish, he also endured anti-Semitic bullying until he fought back one day, hurling his offender across a classroom and into the blackboard. He relays these memories with neither bitterness nor self-serving pity—just a good dose of humor and intelligence. The author balances these reflections with those of an older self navigating first love within the confines of unwritten, but strict, cultural decrees. Meanwhile, he shares thoughtful insight into Fiji’s exotic history and society, as seen by an ineffectual, scrappy Peace Corps volunteer with a lot to learn. Lutwick is also not shy about detailing his hedonistic mindset as a 22-year-old. The ridiculous lengths that he and his friend go to get high—ingesting huge amounts of nutmeg, for example—are off-the-charts hysterical.

An unabashed, candid memoir that continually entertains and educates.