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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 30, 2007

UI Press publishes 2007 Iowa Short Fiction winner in honor of James O. Freedman

Don Waters' "Desert Gothic," winner of the 2007 Iowa Short Fiction Award, will become available from the University of Iowa Press on Sept. 15.

This debut collection is set in the light-filled deserts of Nevada and Arizona -- in bars, mortuaries, nursing homes, truck stops and the "poverty motels that encircled downtown's casino corridor." Waters' 10 stories are full of misfit transients like Julian, a crematorium worker who decorates abandoned urns to create a "lush underground island," and the instant Mormon missionary Eli, a hapless divorcé who "always likes people better when they're a little broken."

Waters was born and raised in Reno, Nev., and now lives in Berkeley, Cal. He's received numerous honors for his writing, including fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Jentel Foundation, as well as the McGinnis-Ritchie Award from the Southwest Review. His stories have been published in Epoch, StoryQuarterly, the Kenyon Review, the Santa Monica Review and ZYZZYVA.

"Desert Gothic" is available for sale at bookstores or directly from the University of Iowa Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

"Desert Gothic" is the first of the Iowa Short Fiction Award winners to be published in honor of the late James O. Freedman (left), a literature enthusiast who was president of the University of Iowa 1982-87 and then president of Dartmouth College.

Holly Carver, director of the UI Press, said, "After seeing James relishing Iowa City's bookstores during his years here, I knew of his passion for books and reading. After working with him on the publication of 'Liberal Education and the Public Interest,' I began to understand his deeply rooted commitment to liberal arts education. Linking James' name with our renowned Iowa Short Fiction Award thus makes perfect sense, and we are proud to do so. In many ways the Iowa Short Fiction Award is a perfect way to honor him."

James Alan McPherson, a Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning "Elbow Room," says, "James Freedman was the most avid lover of books that I've ever met. Based on his reading, he was able to identify with people far, far beyond his own background. He was truly an American. It is a wonderful tribute to the range of his imagination that the Iowa Short Fiction Award books will each year be honoring him."

Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop adds, "We are delighted at this opportunity to honor James O. Freedman, a beloved friend and supporter of the workshop and of its emerging writers."

The short fiction awards are given to a first collection of fiction in English and are administered through the Writers' Workshop. The honors are national in scope and have been given since 1969.

Freedman received his bachelor's degree cum laude from Harvard College in 1957 and his law degree cum laude from Yale Law School in 1962. He was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, practiced law in New York and in 1964 joined the University of Pennsylvania law school faculty, becoming the school's dean in 1979.

During his five years as president at Iowa, Freedman promoted international participation by U.S. universities, particularly in East Asia. He also advocated coupling academic research with economic development.

In 1987, Freedman was named president of Dartmouth College, a position he held for nearly 11 years. In 1998, he returned to teaching at Dartmouth and, in 2000, was elected the 42nd president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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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,