The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Blaise is pronounced blezz; Bharati Mukherjee is pronounced Bah-HAR-tee/ MOOK-err-jee.)

Clark Blaise and Bharati Mukherjee will read at UI Nov. 20

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Authors Clark Blaise and Bharati Mukherjee, who are both University of Iowa faculty members and alumni, will read from their recent work at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in Lecture Room 2 of UI Van Allen Hall. The reading, sponsored by the UI Writers' Workshop and the International Writing Program, is free and open to the public.

Blaise and Mukherjee met as students in the Writers' Workshop and have become one of the world's leading literary couples. They have worked together on several projects, including the acclaimed memoir "Days and Nights in Calcutta."

Blaise, who is director of the International Writing Program, is a short-story writer, novelist and nonfiction writer, celebrated for works including "A North American Education," "Lunar Attractions" and "Man and His World." His "post-modern autobiography," "I Had a Father," was nonfiction book of the year in Canada's Authors' Awards. His most recent book is the novel "If I Were Me."

Blaise was born in Fargo, N.D. to Canadian parents. Of his childhood, Blaise writes "As a native-born American with foreign parents, and as a child who attended an average of two schools a year in 25 different cities, I grew up with an outsider's view of America and a romanticized exile's view of French Canada."

Much of his work deals with tribalism in the larger sense of the word. As Val Clery writes, "the rough, ambiguous justice meted out to the individual by the ethnic, geographical or religious tribes that inhabit North America."

Margaret Atwood writes: "'The disturbing quality in Blaise's work comes not from the distortion of reality but from the sharp focusing of the actual, like an insect or thumb seen in close-up." And a Minneapolis Tribune review stated: "Clark Blaise writes beautifully. He is one of those rare writers who, by opening himself to us, makes it possible for us to better know ourselves."

Mukherjee is currently a visiting faculty member in the fiction division of the Writers' Workshop, on leave from her position on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. The recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award for her short-story collection "The Middleman and Other Stories," she has emerged as one of the nation's most prominent authors.

Mukherjee was born and raised in Calcutta and much of her fiction deals with the immigrant experience in terms of the inevitable identity shifts that accompany relocation of the mind and spirit.

Salman Rushdie writes that Mukherjee's novel "Darkness" is "Strong, precise and surprising . . . Her exploration of the nature and effects of immigration is impressive, informed as it is by profound if understated feelings as well as by intelligence and wit."

Jonathan Raban writes in the New York Times Book Review that "The Middleman" is a "romance with America itself, its infinitely possible geography, its license, sexiness and violence."

And Amy Tan writes that Mukherjee's novel "The Holder of the World" is "an amazing literary feat and a masterpiece of storytelling. Once again Bharati Mukherjee proves she is one of our foremost writers, with the literary muscle to weave both the future and the past into a tale that is singularly intelligent and provocative."

Mukherjee's most recent novel is "Leave it to me."