Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Dean Bakopoulos

This week's podcast is a conversation with Dean Bakopoulos, who easily navigates the worlds of fiction and journalism. Currently a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University, Bakopoulos has lectured at Michigan, Cornell, and other universities about the economic and environmental problems facing the post-industrial Rust Belt, and has published related essays and criticism in journals throughout the country.

He is equally successful at translating his concerns into fiction, receiving an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2006 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. His first novel, Please Don't Come Back from the Moon,  is set in a suburban working-class Detroit suburb in the mid-1990s where a strange phenomenon occurs. One by one the men disappear, leaving behind their wives and children. One of the men leaves a note saying, "I'm going to the moon," which leads the town's children to believe that all their fathers have left for the same lunar destination. Sixteen-year-old Michael's father joins the exodus, and Mike and his friends stumble through their adolescence and adulthood unable to leave the neighborhood their fathers long abandoned.

Bakopoulos uses this haunting premise to examine the day-to-day lives of working people as they try to find their place in a post-industrial United States. Even though his work looks at the devastating impact of tough economic times, Bakopoulos also insists difficult circumstances might just be the right moment to seize your dream.

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