Wil Gesler M’76 Publishes First Work of Fiction

Missionaries and Indians book cover

Author Wil Gesler M’76, an accomplished and now retired academic who specialized in human geography and wrote numerous scholarly books and articles, has published his first fiction book, Missionaries and Indians, based on experiences from his youth and travels.

Missionaries and Indians is a coming of age picaresque novel filled with action, adventure, and humorous stories as seen through the eyes of 16-year-old narrator Ben, along with his twin sister, Naomi. Born and raised in India as the son of Lutheran missionaries, Wil experienced various cultures around the world and was inspired to share his stories in his fictionalized memoir.

Themes of tolerance and intolerance are explored in the various relationships presented in the book, such as those between missionaries and Indians, children and their parents, servants and masters, religious beliefs and more. The characters also experience events such as a cyclone and devastating floods, being caught up in a political riot, becoming a fantasy spy, hunting a man-eating tiger, and the consequences of killing a monkey.

“Admirably, the narrator is neither a zealot who champions his parents’ beliefs nor a cynic who questions their sincerity. Rather, he fills the role of reporter, giving readers the space to form their own opinions.” —Foreword, Clarion Review

Learn more on the Missionaries and Indians website.

Wil Gesler

About the Author

Wil Gesler was born in India to missionary parents during World War II and was educated there through high school at a school for missionary children. He received an MA in English literature from IUP and an MA and PhD in geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He spent most of his working life as an academic human geographer at UNC Chapel Hill. Since his retirement, he has lived with his wife in England, most recently at the edge of the Lake District.