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Common Book Author to Speak at Otterbein

Common Book Author to Speak at Otterbein

Kristen Iversen, author of Otterbein University’s 2016 Common Book, Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, will visit campus from Oct. 25-27 to discuss her book and attend other events related to the book and its overall theme.

Iversen will speak at a convocation at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St. There will be a book signing reception immediately following the convocation in the Roush Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

Students from Otterbein’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present scenes and interpretations from the book at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Campus Center Theatre, 100 W. Home St. The event is free and open to the public.

Also on Wednesday, Oct. 26, Iversen will speak and sign books at an event sponsored by the Friends of Courtright Memorial Library at 7:30 p.m. in the library, 138 W. Main St. Refreshments will be served and a good will donation will be accepted for the Friends of the Library.

Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about Iversen as a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated “the most contaminated site in America.” It’s the story of a childhood and adolescence in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and, unknown to those who lived there, tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium.

It’s also a book about the destructive power of secrets, both family and government — her father’s hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what was made at Rocky Flats. As Iversen grew older and began to investigate Rocky Flats, she discovered records of “incidents,” one which very nearly became a national disaster, and the government’s sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ vain attempts to seek justice in court. Here, too, are vivid portraits of former Rocky Flats workers — from the healthy, who regard their work at the plant with pride and patriotism, to the ill or dying, who battle for compensation for cancers they got on the job. Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life.

Full Body Burden is the winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Reading the West Book Award, and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. It was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association and Mother Jones Magazine and was named the 2012 Best Book about Justice by The Atlantic. Full Body Burden has been selected by more than a dozen universities across the country for their common book reading programs. Recently, it was published in China and it is forthcoming in Japan.

Iversen is also the author of Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth, winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Barbara Sudler Award for Nonfiction; and a textbook, Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Reader’s Digest, Fourth Genre and many other publications. She has appeared on C-SPAN, NPR’s Fresh Air and BBC World Outlook, and has worked extensively with A&E Biography, The History Channel and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2014, she was the recipient of the award for Distinguished Achievement in the Creative Arts from the University of Memphis. She holds a doctorate degree from the University of Denver, and currently heads the doctorate program in creative nonfiction at the University of Cincinnati. She has lectured widely across the United States and abroad.

This is the 22nd year for the Common Book program, which is supported by The Thomas Academic Excellence Series and is intended to create intellectual excitement and strengthen bonds on campus by providing a shared academic experience for many surrounding an annual academic theme. For more information about the University’s Common Book program, contact Jennifer Bechtold at (614) 823-3202 or visit www.otterbein.edu/commonbook.