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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 12, 2005

Discussions Scheduled For Community Reading Project; Author To Visit Nov. 9

Johnson County residents participating in the fifth-annual reading program, "One Community, One Book--Johnson County Reads," will have opportunities to meet other readers and share their reactions at any of the seven community discussion forums scheduled from late September through early November. This year's book is "When the Emperor was Divine" by Julie Otsuka, who will visit Iowa City for a public lecture and discussion session on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Buchannan Auditorium, Pappajohn Business Building.

This countywide reading project is sponsored by The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) and a variety of community and university groups and organizations. It is open to all community members interested in broadening their understanding of human rights through reading. The project runs from Sept. 18 to Nov. 12.

Otsuka's novel chronicles the 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. By coincidence, the book was published around the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs and coordinator of the project, said that project continues to expand. This year, all City High School ninth graders will read "When the Emperor was Divine." In addition, the program will continue to reach inmates at the Iowa Medical Classification Center at Oakdale, where a discussion will be held on Sept. 29.

A schedule of the upcoming community forums, which are all free and open to the public, follows:

Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m.: West High School, Library; Facilitator: Beth Belding, 688-1050

Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m.: Coralville Public Library, E. Jean Schwab Auditorium; Facilitator: Joyce Carman, 248-1850

Oct. 3, 7 p.m.: North Liberty Community Library, Study Room; Facilitator: Jennie Garner, 626-5731

Oct. 11, Noon-1 p.m.: Iowa City Public Library, Room A; Facilitator: Andrea Clinkenbeard, 356-5200

Oct. 12, 3:30 p.m.: Oaknoll Retirement Residence, East Lounge: Facilitator: Sam Becker, 351-1720

Oct. 25, 1-3 p.m.: Iowa City Senior Center, Room 205; Facilitator: Joyce Carman, 356-5220, Cosponsored by The Center

Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.: City High School, Cafeteria; Facilitator: Randy Brown, 688-1040

Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of Yale University and received her M.F.A. from Columbia. She lives in New York City.

For additional information on these forums or to obtain free Readers' Guides, contact Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs at 338-1230,

For details about the overall project, consult the UICHR web site where pertinent discussion notes and questions are posted.

"One Community, One Book-Johnson County Reads" began in 2001, sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights, The UI International Writing Program and Prairie Lights Books. Each are sponsoring the project again this year together with the Coralville Public Library, Hancher Auditorium, Hills Bank & Trust Company, Iowa Book LLC, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa State Bank & Trust Company, UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, UI Charter Committee on Human Rights, UI Department of History, UI International Programs and the University Book Store. Iowa City High school and West High School Library are also formal participants in the project.

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

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Dorothy Paul, UICHR, 319-338-1230;