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University of Iowa News Release

May 2, 2003

Week's Readings On WSUI Includes UI Writers' Workshop Alumnus Bill Lashner

Bill Lashner, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from his legal thriller "Fatal Flaw" as part of the May 13-17 schedule of "Live from Prairie Lights" broadcasts, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The week's events are:
-- Palestinian author Elias Chacour, reading from his memoir "Blood Brothers" at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 13;
-- Iowa State faculty member Sheryl St. Germain, reading from the memoir "Swamp Songs" at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 15;
-- Lashner's reading at 8 p.m. Friday, May 16; and
-- Irish novelist and playwright Joseph O'Connor reading from "Star of the Sea" at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17.

All the readings will be free events in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen to the readings on the internet at

Chacour is a Palestinian Melkite priest in Galilee, and a Middle East peace activist who provides a Christian perspective on issues usually cast only in Jewish and Moslem terms. He has built schools, libraries, community centers and youth clubs throughout Galilee, to promote the reconciliation of Palestinians and Jews.

Sheryl St. Germain's memoir, subtitled "The Making of an Unruly Woman," describes her upbringing in Louisiana's bayou country.

A Publishers Weekly preview summarized, "Landscape shapes this collection of essays by the New Orleans-born and bred poet St. Germain ('The Journals of Scheherazade'). While her family has all the earmarks of a troubled one -- 'drugs, alcoholism, sex, murder, suicide' -- their tale is merely the frame within which St. Germain has constructed a memoir of and dirge for a place: Louisiana. . . . St. Germain succeeds in simultaneously offering a sensitive memoir and an homage to Louisiana's swamps, the people who dwell near them and New Orleans."

Kim Barnes, author of "Hungry for the World," wrote, "'Swamp Songs' offers a sense of life on the Louisiana Delta more vivid than any book I have ever read. Like a magnificent roux its pages are rich, redolent with the complexity and contradictions of this extraordinary place. Her astonishing imaginative leaps and musings, her attention to detail and lyric presentation, place St. Germain in a class shared by masterful memoirists -- and celebrated Cajun musicians and chefs -- alike."

St. Germain, who is a member of the ISU English faculty, was a 1999 winner of the William Faulkner Creative Writing Award for the Personal Essay.

"Fatal Flaw" is Bill Lashner's third Philadelphia-based thriller, following the best-sellers "Bitter Truth" and "Hostile Witness." Critic Nicholas H. Allison called the book, "a rare delight: a legal thriller with freshness and vitality, qualities too often lacking in this sometimes-tired genre."

And Harlan Coben concluded, "'Fatal Flaw' is an explosive mix of love gone wrong, betrayal, and murder. With high wit and perfect pitch, Lashner keeps the reader spellbound."

In addition to his Master of Fine Arts degree from the UI, Lashner holds a law degree from New York University, and he has served as trial attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Justice Department.

Joseph O'Connor's "Star of the Sea" was short-listed for Irish Novel of the Year.

Critic Karen Holt wrote, "O'Connor's luscious book brews the suspense of a thriller with the scope and passion of a Victorian novel -- seasoned in authentic historical detail and served up in language that is equal parts lyrical and gritty. A voyage from Ireland to New York in 1847 brings together people whose lives -- past and present -- twist around each other in ways that threaten to strangle. . . (O'Connor) is earning his spot in the ranks of great Irish storytellers."

O'Connor's prolific literary output has included novels, short stories, journalism, travel books, plays, screenplays and criticism.

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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,