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University of Iowa News Release


March 19, 2007

UI Faculty Member Young Reads From Provocative Book March 30

Vershawn Ashanti Young, a University of Iowa faculty member in rhetoric and African American Studies, will read from his new book "Your Average Nigga" at 7 p.m. Friday, March 30, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live on the Internet via The Writing University Website at

The free reading was scheduled in conjunction with the Second Annual Mission Creek Midwest Festival.

Young, a cultural critic and performance artist, argues in "Your Average Nigga" with many contemporary notions of African American life, including the notion that black people are better off trying to be more like white people.

E. Patrick Johnson, author of "Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity," wrote: "Vershawn Young's 'Your Average Nigga' has the ingredients of a good novel: dazzling prose, a seductive plot, and a critical and likeable narrator. Beyond its wonderful storytelling, however, this manuscript is undergirded by a provocative theorizing about racial, gender, and sexual identity."

When asked about the controversial title of his book, Young says, "it's in your face, but it doesn't hurt."

The "Writing University" Website at not only provides a handy portal to the UI writing programs -- including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Translation Workshop, the UI Press and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival -- but also centralizes writing news, lists upcoming events and provides access to a wealth of writing materials: texts, journals, lists of Iowa-connected writers and publications, historic videos and archived audio. Visitors to the site have the option of subscribing to an RSS feed.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;