© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lee Cole's debut novel is an empathetic exploration of a deeply divided nation

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The novel Groundskeeping is about a young man, trying to find his way in the world, who falls in love with a young woman from a very different background. The story covers less than a year in their lives, but the scope of the novel is much larger.

Writer Lee Cole grew up in rural Kentucky. His novel, Groundskeeping, takes place in Kentucky. But even if you haven’t been to Kentucky, the emotional landscape of the novel feels very familiar. The book starts a few weeks before the 2016 Presidential election and the main character, Owen, is trying to find his place in the world.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks to Lee Cole, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, about his debut novel.

Later in the podcast, a conversation about what it's like to live on Mars. Humans have not yet traveled to the red planet, but the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah Desert gives researchers from many different disciplines the opportunity to learn from simulating the experience of living on Mars. When sociologist Inga Popovaite was finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, she spent two weeks living at the research station.


  • Lee Cole, author of Groundskeeping
  • Inga Popovaite, researcher, Kaunas University of Technology Institute of Social Sciences, Art, and Humanities in Lithuania
Talk of Iowa Books & ReadingTalk of Iowa Book ClubPolitics
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa