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Author to speak about role of water in Central Valley

Award-winning author Mark Arax will visit Merced on Saturday, Aug. 5, for a talk at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.
Award-winning author Mark Arax will visit Merced on Saturday, Aug. 5, for a talk at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

Award-winning author Mark Arax will talk about the role of water in the Central Valley at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, located at 645 West Main Street in downtown Merced.

The talk, which is entitled “Where Water Flows, Injustice Grows: How the San Joaquin Valley became a Most Unequal Place” is free and open to the public.

Born and raised in Fresno, Arax spent years covering the Central Valley as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. His Los Angeles Times stories revealing state-sanctioned murder and cover-ups in California prisons were praised by The Nation magazine as “one of great journalistic achievements of the decade.”

Fellow writers have singled out the lyrical quality of his writing in award-winning stories on life and death in California’s heartland. Arax also wrote and narrated Black Okies, a 2018 documentary film that tells the story of the tens of thousands of African American sharecroppers who migrated from the Deep South to California’s Central Valley in the 1940s and 1950s.

Arax best-selling The King of California, a book about the founding and growth of the Boswell farming empire, is considered by many an essential read for understanding life in the Central Valley. His most recent book, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, is being hailed as one of the most important books ever written about the West. Critic David L. Ulin says of The Dreamt Land, “Arax knows the territory; he has written about rural California for many years. This is his crowning achievement, a work of reportage that is also a work of literature. It belongs on the short list of great books about the state.”

A top graduate of Fresno State and Columbia University, Arax left the Los Angeles Times in 2007 after a public fight over censorship of his story on the Armenian Genocide. He has taught literary non-fiction at Claremont McKenna College and Fresno State University.

The father of three children, Arax lives on a suburban farm in Fresno.

A natural-born storyteller, Arax’s talk in Merced is certain to be enlightening, entertaining, and provocative.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Merced County Library.

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