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University of Iowa News Release

Release: March 12, 2003

(Photo by Mark Gerson)

Iowa Writers' Workshop Guest Jim Crace Reads March 27

British fiction writer Jim Crace, a visitor at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 27 in Room 321 of the UI Chemistry Building.

The reading was rescheduled from March 26 so that it would not conflict with the UI lecture by former President Clinton. The location is also different than the venue originally announced.

Crace has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and his honors include the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the National Books Critics Circle Award, the E.M. Forster Award and the GAP International Prize for literature. John Updike has called him "a writer of hallucinatory skill," and Jim Shepard wrote in the New York Times Book Review, "It's not clear to me why Jim Crace isn't world famous."

Crace gave up a journalism career in 1974 to devote his time to creative writing. His work since then includes the books "Being Dead," "Quarantine," "The Gift of Stones," "The Devil's Larder: A Feast," "The Signals of Distress," "Arcadia" and Continent." In addition to his creative work, Crace was the founder and former director of the Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers.

A London Evening Standard review of "Being Dead" stated, "Crace writes with the power of a Darwinian god . . . a novel of astonishing intensity. . . . Crace is the only writer capable of writing like this -- luscious, rich, heavy with ornament and arcane science, yet ethically focused. . . 'Being Dead' is one of the best books written since the death of Beckett."

And Justin Cartwright of the Literary Review called Crace " one of the most distinctive and talented writers of our time."

Crace has said of his career change: "When I was a journalist, that fit my puritanical project more than writing novels would have. I'm a political animal, and when I was a journalist with the Sunday Times a million people or more would buy the newspaper and have a chance of reading my stuff. If you're a political person, you want to be a player, you want to be part of the debate, you want to change the hearts and minds of men and women, set agendas if you possibly can. I could pretend that I was doing that to a small extent when I was a journalist.

"So when I was a journalist I felt I was addressing my project. I didn't feel frustrated. I didn't want to tell lies. I was doing a valuable job. Now, I'm doing a less valuable job, I think. I'm a writer without a constituency. I have readers, but I'm not a black writer or a gay writer or a feminist writer. I have readers is all. Paradoxically, I've found my true calling, the one thing in life I'm really good at. I've found it by happenstance, but even so I don't think it's important."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,