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Kristen Iversen’s Full Body Burden Is Selected for National Book Awards

For release: March 14, 2013
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901-678-2843

Kristen Iversen
Kristen Iversen

A haunting work of narrative nonfiction by University of Memphis faculty member Kristen Iversen continues to garner national and international acclaim. Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats has been chosenone of theBest Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association and the 2012 Best Book about Justice by The Atlantic. The book also is a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. 

Full Body Burden is the story of 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.”

“What happened at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, during the Cold War and up to the present moment, is crucially important not only to Colorado, but to the entire country,” said Iversen,  associate professor of English and coordinator of the MFA program in creative writing. “So much of the story has been hidden over the years, and now it is in danger of being forgotten. We cannot forget the story of Rocky Flats. Not only is it an important part of American history, but the environmental and health effects will linger far into the future.”

The book has been praised as “gorgeously written and impressively researched.” Full Body Burden blends a tragedy of public health, a backdrop of the Cold War, a grassroots movement for justice, and the author’s poignant personal story. Part investigative journalism and part memoir, it is a story of secrets – not only of the government’s cover-up of nuclear contamination, but also her family’s silences.

“I’m very pleased that the book is helping draw attention to the University of Memphis and to our wonderful MFA program in creative writing,” Iversen said. “We have a talented group of faculty and students, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

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