Tuesday, January 28, 2014

University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Chinelo Okparanta will read from her debut story collection centered on Nigerian women, Happiness, Like Water, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, in a free reading at Prairie Lights Books in downtown Iowa City. The reading also will be streamed live on the University of Iowa Writing University website.

Julie Otsuka, award-winning Japanese American author, says of the book, “A haunting and startlingly original collection of short stories about the lives of Nigerians both at home and in America. Okparanta's characters are forced to make difficult, often impossible choices—a university student decides to go to work as an escort to pay for her mother's medical bills; a high school teacher is asked to come home to care for her dying, abusive father—and yet they manage to prevail through quiet and sometimes surprising acts of defiance. Okparanta's prose is elegant and precise, fueled by a strong undercurrent of rage that surfaces at unexpected moments. Happiness, Like Water is a deeply affecting literary debut, the work of a sure and gifted new writer.”

Okparanta was born in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, where she was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. When she was 10, her family relocated to the United States. Okparanta was one of Granta's six “New Voices for 2012” and her work has appeared in Conjunctions, Subtropics, and elsewhere. She lives in West Lafayette, Ind., where she is a visiting assistant professor of fiction at Purdue University.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to attend this reading, call Jan Weissmiller at Prairie Lights in advance at 319-337-2681.

For a UI arts calendar and details about upcoming events visit the Arts Iowa website.