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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 4, 2007

Essayist Frey reads Oct. 15 as guest of UI Nonfiction Writing Program

Essayist Darcy Frey (photo left), who Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam called "one of America's best young literary journalists," will present a free reading from his forthcoming book, "George Divoky's Planet," at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, in Room 101 of the University of Iowa Becker Communication Studies Building.

"George Divoky's Planet" profiles an ornithologist who has been studying a group of seabirds in the Artic for the past 30 years. The intimate relationship these birds share with the small Arctic island on which they live has revealed to Divoky some of the most compelling and concrete evidence of global warming.

Frey spent six years researching the book, which included three trips to the Artic. Excerpts from the book have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, "The Best American Science Writing" and "The Best American Essays," and have subsequently earned Frey the Livingston Prize, an award presented annually to exceptional young journalists.

Frey is best known for his book "The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams," a story of four teenage basketball stars from the projects of Coney Island, NY, a culture in which, as Frey has put it, "there is basketball, and when that doesn't work out, there are drugs." The book came out the same year as the popular documentary "Hoop Dreams," and together the two projects helped bring heightened national attention to the commodification of young black athletes.

Naming the work one of its Notable Books of the Year, the New York Times Book Review editors asserted, "This book -- compellingly written, with elegance, economy, and just the right amount of outrage -- should be read by every parent who has a child involved in school sports."

A Newsweek review called it the best debut of the year, literary critic Norman Sims described it as a "perfect example of literary journalism" and the Society of Professional Journalists rewarded it the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service.

Frey's essays regularly appear in Rolling Stone, Harper's, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times Magazine, where Frey is now a contributing editor. One of Frey's earliest essays for the Times, "Does Anyone Here Think This Baby Can Live?" -- a haunting description of the life-and-death decisions made about premature babies -- has been cited by the editor of the New York Times Magazine as one of the essays that helped the magazine evolve "from a publication was thought of as not particularly good, to one that's now at the center of great American journalism."

Frey's visit the UI is sponsored by the Nonfiction Writing Program, with support from the Provost's Office and Humanities Iowa. The Nonfiction Writing Program is part of the English Department in the UI College of Liberal 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 CONTACTS: Allison Thomas, UI Press, 319-335-2015,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),