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.