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Release: April 20, 2001

UI Writers' Workshop faculty member Ethan Canin reads from his new novel May 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty member Ethan Canin, described by critic Alan Cheuse as "the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation," will read from his forthcoming novel, "Carry Me Across the Water," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 2 at the Prairie Lights Bookstore in downtown Iowa City. The reading -- part of the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM -- is free and open to the public.

Joanne Wilkinson described the book for the American Library Association’s Booklist, "In Canin’s fourth novel, he tells the story of 78-year-old German immigrant August Kleinman. Having recently lost his beloved wife and sensing that the end is near, August flashes back to key moments in his past, struggling to see the patterns that have shaped his life.

"He escaped Nazi Germany when he was just a boy, and his mother’s courage and counsel (‘Take the advice of no one’) always stayed with him. He fought in World War II, married his high-school sweetheart, had three children, and made a fortune by starting his own brewery. August misses his wife terribly and frets about what to do with his money, but the key moment he returns to again and again is a frightening confrontation he had with a young Japanese soldier in a cave. He ultimately decides to go to Japan, where he intends to make reparations to the family of the young soldier."

Kirkus Reviews recommended the book as "A richly detailed, intriguingly fragmented chronicle of the personal history and turbulent inner life of a prosperous German-American businessman…It signals a new, and very promising‚ stage in Canin’s career."

Canin received a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University before coming to the Writers’ Workshop for his Master of Fine Arts degree. After graduating from the UI he attended Harvard Medical School, and he was practicing medicine when he decided to abandon his career as a doctor and dedicate the rest of his life to writing.

Canin made his acclaimed debut with the 1988 short-story collection, "Emperor of the Air," winner of the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, and his subsequent work includes the collection "The Palace Thief" and the novel "For Kings and Planets." His novel "Blue River" is being re-released in paperback this spring.

A critique of "Emperor of the Air" in Kirkus Reviews called the book, "one of the strongest first story collections in years, from a generous writer with heart and style and the power to surprise." And Walker Percy wrote, "Ethan Canin’s short stories are dazzling, at times breathtaking, at other times heartbreaking."

"For Kings and Planet" was a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of the Year" and was one of "Fresh Air's" Top 10 Books of the Year. Newsday’s critic called "For Kings and Planets," "Breathtaking... Outstanding. ..Scott Fitzgerald himself would have been honored by his company."

A Booklist review of "The Palace Thief" stated, "If one were to diagram Canin ’s fictional form, it would have to be of classical proportions: clean, noble, and golden."

For more information on this reading, call the Prairie Lights bookstore at (319) 337-2681. For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.