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University of Iowa News Release

June 18, 2003

Berry Wins Hurston Society Award For Literature

Venise Berry, associate professor of journalism and mass communication in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Zora Neale Hurston Society Award for "Creative Contribution to Literature" at the group's national conference last month. Berry gave the keynote address at the conference banquet, speaking about her most recent novel "Colored Sugar Water" (Dutton/Penguin 2002.)

Berry is the author of two other best selling novels, "So Good, An African American Love Story" (Dutton/Penguin, 1996) and "All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale" (Dutton/Penguin 2000.) Her fourth novel, "Still So Good" is scheduled for publication in 2004. In 2001 "All of Me" received an Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and Berry received an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation of Des Moines.

Berry is also published widely in academic circle with many articles and book chapters on popular culture, media and youth. With her brother S. Torriano Berry, an associate professor in film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Berry wrote "The 50 Most Influential Black Films" (Citadel, 2001). She also co-edited "Mediated Messages and African-American Culture: Contempary Issues" (Sage, 1996), which won the Meyers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America in 1997.

The Zora Neale Hurston Society is a national organization founded in 1983 by a group of scholars, journalists, educators, folklorists, historians, students and other interested persons who wished to promote appreciate of the life, works and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston and to preserve the heritage of African Diasporic letters.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is one of the most important African American writers with pioneering anthropological work dealing with myth, ritual and spirituality. A 1928 graduate of Barnard college, some of her most prominent works include: Mules and Men (1935), Their Eyes were Watching God (1937), Tell My Horse (1938) and her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1994, the U.S. Postal Service featured her on the 19th stamp in its literary series in 2003 and her hometown of Eatonville, Fla. hosts a Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts and Humanities every year.

The Founder and President of the Zora Neale Hurston Society is Ruthe T. Sheffey, professor and department chair of English Literature at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,