Traversing the enigma inside a mystery


By Levi Wright

Found Audio takes readers through a story that has been passed on through time shrouded in mystery and adventure.

On July 16, N.J. Campbell will read from his novel, Found Audio, at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St. Found Audio is Campbell’s first novel, published by Two Dollar Radio.

“[You] get to hear the way the author hears it in their head,” Campbell said. “That’s going to be different from how everybody else reads it. To one degree or another, it’s going to have a cadence and a voice that’s probably going to be different.”

Two Dollar Radio, based in Columbus, Ohio, was founded in San Diego by husband and wife combo Eric Obenauf and Eliza Wood-Obenauf with the goal to “reaffirm the cultural and artistic spirit of the publishing industry.”

“N.J. Campbell was an author we were very happy to schedule because his book, Found Audio, has been published by Two Dollar Radio, a small press known for publishing quality, atypical literature,” said Kathleen Johnson, the Prairie Lights events coordinator. “We like to support them because they are a small press, but we have been so impressed by their books that having their mark on a work tells us it’s going to be interesting.”

Though this may be Campbell’s first novel, it isn’t his first time writing. In 2015, Campbell won the Little Tokyo Short Story Contest with his story “Fish Market in Little Tokyo.”

“I’m shocked, and I’m speechless,” Campbell said. “I thought maybe one day when I was old, I might get to publish something. At the beginning of this novel, I had no agent. I was completely unknown.”

Found Audio was released Tuesday to positive reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews along with authors Steve Erickson and Christian Kiefer.

“A page-turner, an onion peel of a story surrounding nothing less than the central questions of human existence …” Publishers Weekly wrote. “The reader is led down a rabbit hole and back out again, confused, afraid, but nevertheless also ever so slightly amused. This is a weird little book full of momentum, intrigue, and weighty ideas to mull over.”

Found Audio is a stand-alone novel that has been referred to as a “cerebral thriller” by Two Dollar Radio. The book tells the cryptic story of that spans eras of history and places across the globe. Readers can find themselves in the Louisiana bayou one moment and later be transported to the Singing Dunes of Mongolia. Found Audio is the transcription of multiple fictional tapes transcribed by the fictional character Amrapali Anna Singh in a goal to find out who is making these tapes and why.

“The core of [Found Audio] is that in the heart of the book is the question what is the book,” Campbell said. “Is it what’s happening, what’s going on? I guess I would say what separates itself is the book itself is a riddle, and I don’t see a lot of things written with the intention of having a lot of different layers coalesce into an overarching question. Lots of books do lots of layers, and lots of books have lots of questions. I don’t really see a lot that keeps asking the same question in many different ways.”

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