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University of Iowa News Release

June 16, 2006

June 29 'Live From Prairie Lights' Features UI Non-Fiction Graduate Tim Bascom

Newton, Iowa's Tim Bascom, an alumnus of the University of Iowa Non-Fiction Writing Program, will read from his new book, "Chameleon Days," at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 29 on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The broadcast, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, will originate in a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Bascom's book is a memoir of a very young Kansas native growing up in a missionary family in Ethiopia.

A starred review in Publishers Weekly explained, "In 1964, three-year-old Bascom and his two brothers were uprooted from Kansas via Missouri by their missionary parents and taken to the family's personal Oz -- Ethiopia. Bascom's father was a doctor, and the family went first to an established mission hospital in Soddo, then in 1967 to a nascent outpost in Liemo.

"In Ethiopia, Tim and his older brother, Johnathan, attended boarding school -- American children walled in from their African neighbors. Bascom's recollections of moments and conversations from his childhood are narrated with delightfully puerile wonder. Memories of a pet chameleon, a banquet with the emperor, the descent of winged termites, a hideaway high in an avocado tree and the cry of hyenas outside the bedroom window on Christmas Eve are apt to remind adult readers of their own less exotic youthful discoveries and stoke the imaginations of older children and young adults.

"Such precision in voice earned Bascom the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Bakeless Prize, and his smartly naive observations grow more sophisticated as the country succumbs to political unrest in the 1970s and missionary life becomes uncertain. Nostalgic but not overwrought, Bascom's memoir is accented with casual family snapshots like ribbons on the gift of a gently captured place in time."

Bascom's work has been published in "The Best American Travel Writing."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,