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University of Iowa News Release

March 20, 2003

Workshop Alumni Packer, Haigh Read At Prairie Lights

The "Live From Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa Radio Station WSUI, will feature fiction readings by UI Writers' Workshop graduates ZZ Packer on Monday, March 31, and Jennifer Haigh on Wednesday, April 2. Both readings will free events in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Packer's debut short-story collection, "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," has just been published, and Haigh's "Mrs. Kimble" appeared in bookstores in February.

Packer has the marks of a literary star on the rise. Her work was featured in The New Yorker's debut fiction issue, on NPR's "Selected Shorts" and in "The Best American Short Stories, 2000," and she has already won a Whiting Writers' Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. She is now on the faculty at Stanford University.

A Publishers Weekly preview of "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" observed, "The clear-voiced humanity of Packer's characters, mostly black teenage girls, resonates unforgettably through the eight stories of this accomplished debut collection... Packer knows how to keep the tone provocative and tense at the close of each tale, doing justice to the complexity and dignity of the characters and their difficult choices."

Margot Livesey, author of "Eva Moves the Furniture," wrote, "What a wonderfully frank, fearless, funny writer ZZ Packer is and how splendidly 'Drinking Coffee Elsewhere' displays those qualities."

Jean Thompson's wrote for the March 16 New York Times Book Review, "Young writers, naturally enough, write about young characters. 'Drinking Coffee Elsewhere' is not really limited by this. Instead, there is a sense of a talented writer testing and pushing at those limits, ringing as many changes as possible within her fictional world. It is a world already populated by clamoring, sorrowing, eminently knowable people, and with the promise of more to come."

A starred review of "Mrs. Kimble" in the American Library Association's Booklist stated, "Haigh's luminous debut novel is the story of the three women who become the wives of Ken Kimble, a minister turned real estate agent. For all three, Kimble remains an elusive man, who at first appears to be each woman's ideal, only to reveal his true colors later on... A beautiful novel with memorable, vibrant characters that will have wide appeal."

Haigh, the recipient of a UI James A. Michener Fellowship in 2002, has published stories in periodicals including Good Housekeeping, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Idaho Review and the Global City Review.

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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,