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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 2, 2005

'Johnson County Reads' Author Julie Otsuka To Visit UI Nov. 9

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights will host a free, public event on Wednesday, Nov. 9, featuring Julie Otsuka, author of "When the Emperor was Divine," 2005 selection of "One Community, One Book-Johnson County Reads." The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Buchanan Auditorium, Pappajohn Business Building.

Hundreds of area readers have read and joined in community discussions of "When the Emperor Was Divine," which explores heartbreaking evacuation experience of an unnamed Japanese-American family during World War II when more than 100,000 Japanese-American citizens were interned. The novel not only reveals the dark underside of a period in American history that has been largely unexplored in American fiction, but its story of one family's persecution during World War II invites comparisons to today's contemporary world.

Otsuka was born and raised in California and lives in New York City. She is a graduate of Yale University where she received her B.A. in art and pursued a career in painting for several years before later turning to writing. She received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. Her first novel, "When the Emperor was Divine" (Knopf 2002), has been translated into six languages and was the winner of the Asian American Literary Award and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers Award." Otsuka is a 2004 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship.

Now in its fifth year, the Johnson County Reads project encourages people to read the selected book and through public and private discussion to develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues. In addition to the UICHR, UI sponsors include: International Writing Program, Charter Committee on Human Rights, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, Department of History, International Programs and University Book Store. External sponsors include: Prairie Lights Books, Coralville Public Library, Hancher Auditorium, Hills Bank & Trust Company, Iowa Book LLC, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Iowa City Public Library and Iowa State Bank & Trust Company. Iowa City High School and West High School are also participants in the project.

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,; Program: Dorothy Paul, UICHR,