Richard Wiley

Festival for Three Thousand Maidens

Festival for Three Thousand Maidens is set in the 1960s, the era of war in Vietnam and riots and assassinations in the U.S. Bobby Comstock, the hero of this novel, is an escapee from his times. From his country. Even from himself. He is physically overweight, emotionally inexperienced, and improbably, a Peace Corps teacher of English in a rural South Korean school. He is a young man lost in a world he has never made, and in a life he doesn't know how to live. Even so, Bobby Comstock doesn't escape the world's upheavals forever, and he eventually has his understanding, his emotions, and his humanity stretched to their limits over the gap between East and West.

Comedy intertwines with tragedy, powerful drama with farce, as the hero exchanges his English lessons for lessons that villagers--from professors to bar girls, village elders to street boys--give him in everything from primal survival to high-minded purpose. He receives a different, deeply poignant lesson from a black woman Peace Corps member, who initiates him first into the pleasure of physical love, and then the pain of racial prejudice.


On St. Patrick’s Day in 1968, sixteen people sit in Pat’s Tavern, drink green beer, flirt, rib each other, and eventually go home in (mostly) different directions. In the stories that follow, which span 1958 to the present, Richard Wiley pops back into the lives of this colorful cast of characters—sometimes into their pasts, sometimes into their futures—and explores the ways in which their individual narratives indelibly weave together. At the heart of it all lies Tacoma, Washington, a town full of eccentricities and citizens as unique as they are universal. The Tacoma of Tacoma Stories might be harboring paranoid former CIA operatives and wax replicas of dead husbands, but it is also a place with all the joys and pains one could find in any town, anytime and anywhere.
Dr. Ruby Okada meets Bob Stevenson, a charming man with a Scottish accent, in the elevator of her psychiatric hospital. Unaware that he is an escaping patient, she falls under his spell, and her life and his are changed forever by the time they get to the street.
Ruth Rhodes is suddenly confronted by the man who raped her four years earlier, and must come clean with both herself and her husband, while he negotiates the grief and mystery surrounding the murder of his own mother. The rapist, meanwhile, stands atop this narrative, telling his side of the story in diabolically captivating ways.
Two American minstrels visit Japan and get caught in Machiavellian machinations at the opening of the country in 1854.
American Jazz musicians drafted into the Japanese army during World War II. Pen/Faulkner Award winner.
World travelers meet and clash in Nome, Alaska at the end of the 19th Century.
The raucous tale of a mid-1960s Peace Corps Volunteer living in a Korean Village.
American school principal involves himself in Nigerian intrigue and politics.
Ivory and animals on a Kenyan farm. Out of Africa in the modern age.

Interviews, etc.