Bascom, Tim 1961-

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Bascom, Tim 1961-

PERSONAL: Born 1961; son of a physician and missionary father and missionary mother; married; children: two sons. Education: University of Iowa, M.F.A.

ADDRESSES: Home— Newton, IA. Office— DMACC—Newton Polytechnic, 600 N. 2nd Ave., Newton, IA 50208. E-mail— [email protected]

CAREER: Des Moines Area Community College, Des Moines, IA, teacher.

AWARDS, HONORS: Editor Prize, Missouri Review, Editor Prize, Florida Review, both for excerpt from Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia; Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for nonfiction, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, 2005, for Chameleon Days.


Squatters’ Rites (novel), New Day Publishers (Quezon City, Philippines), 1990.

The Comfort Trap: Spiritual Dangers of the Convenience Culture (nonfiction), InterVarsity Press (Downers Grove, IL), 1993.

Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia (memoir), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

Author of poems and essays. Contributor to anthology The Best American Travel Writing, 2005. Poems have appeared in periodicals, including Christian Century, The Other Side, Wapsipinicon Almanac, and Sojourners.

SIDELIGHTS: A graduate of the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Tim Bascom has published essays and poetry. He has also written the novel Squatters’ Rites, a story set in a Manila slum, and The Comfort Trap: Spiritual Dangers of the Convenience Culture, which takes a critical look at the practice of Christianity in America. More recently, however, Bascom received considerable attention for his memoir, Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia.

The son of medical missionaries, Bascom spent much of his childhood growing up in Ethiopia during the time of Emperor Haile Selassie. Having parents who were very preoccupied with their Christian missionary work was difficult for the young Bascom, and in Chameleon Days he relates how he and his two brothers tried to cope with their constantly changing circumstances. Bascom was the middle child, and he often was alone because his older brother was sent to boarding school first and his younger brother was too little to spend play time with. Bascom spent considerable time exploring the wildlife of the country, and he made a pet out of a chameleon. He was later sent to boarding school, too, but when Ethiopia was thrown into political unrest and violent student protests ensued, his parents gathered up their children and returned to America.

Critics of Chameleon Days found the author’s work to be a rich portrayal of the times and setting. Although Entertainment Weekly reviewer Gilbert Cruz believed that the novel “would have benefited from more context” about the political situation in Ethiopia, a Kirkus Reviews contributor declared it a “stirring tribute to a turbulent, beautifully evoked era.” “Nostalgic but not overwrought,” according to a Publishers Weekly critic, the work has “gently captured [a] place in time.”



Bascom, Tim, Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.


Entertainment Weekly, June 16, 2006, Gilbert Cruz, review of Chameleon Days, p. 81.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2006, review of Chameleon Days, p. 443.

Kliatt, September, 2006, Patricia Moore, review of Chameleon Days, p. 39.

Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2006, review of Chameleon Days, p. 49.