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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 20, 2003

Oct. 27-31 'Live From Prairie Lights' Schedule Includes Controversial Israeli Poet

The Oct. 27-31 schedule of "Live from Prairie Lights," broadcast readings, hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature the controversial Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The full schedule of 8 p.m. broadcast readings at the book store that week is:
-- Kalona author Evie Miller Yoder reading from her debut novel, "Eyes at the Window," on Monday, Oct. 27;
-- Shabtai, whose poems generate controversy by taking on political issues, in a reading co-sponsored by the UI International Writing Program Oct. 28;
-- Minneapolis writer Susan Allen Toth, reading from "Leaning Into the Wind: A Memoir of Midwest Weather," on Wednesday, Oct. 29
-- UI Writer's Workshop graduates Julie Orringer and Ryan Harty, reading from their debut short-story collections, on Thursday, Oct. 30; and
-- workshop alumnus John Smolens on Friday, Oct. 31.

You can attend the readings at the Prairie Lights bookstore free of charge, or listen to the readings -- America's only radio series of live readings -- on the internet at

Evie Miller Yoder's novel presents the saga Amish settlers in Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 19th century. A Publishers Weekly preview summarized, "In less able hands, this epic might drag, but Miller crafts a narrative that seizes the reader's imagination from the beginning and never lets go. . . (It's) a rich portrait of a time and a people."

Aharon Shabtai was educated on a kibbutz and at the Hebrew University, the Sorbonne, and Cambridge University. He is the author of 16 books of poetry, and he also translates Greek drama into Hebrew.

Shabtai's latest collection, "J'Accuse," takes on Zionism and its seemingly endless struggle with the Palestinians. Edward Hirsch, writing in the Washington Post, called the collection "A shocking book of poems that is powered by political rage . . . an upsetting and provocative book."



Susan Allen Toth, who has spent most of her life in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, is the author of books including "Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood," "My Love Affair with England," "England As You Like It" and "England for All Seasons." She has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper's and Vogue.



Julie Orringer's first short-story collection is "How to Breathe Underwater." Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, The Yale Review, Ploughshares, The Pushcart Prize anthology and Zoetrope: All-Story.

Ann Packer wrote, "In 'How to Breathe Underwater,' Julie Orringer delves into the complex lives of girls and young women, and with uncommon courage and exceptional clarity she shows us what she finds: passionate, often disturbing feelings of longing and jealousy and grief; an intense struggle to make sense of the unfathomable world of adults, and above all a determination to survive. These are tough, beautiful stories, piercing and true, and they mark the debut of an exceptionally gifted writer."

And George Saunders commented, "Julie Orringer writes with virtuosity and depth about the fears, cruelties, and humiliations of childhood, but then does that rarest, and more difficult, thing: writes equally beautifully about the moments of victory and transcendence."

Ryan Harty's "Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona" is the winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award.

Publishers Weekly previewed, "The stark landscapes of the desert Southwest form the backdrop for Harty's poignant and intelligent debut collection. . . Hardy excels at creating a three-dimensional desert suburbia populated by seeking, reaching characters, for whom happiness is always just a bit out of reach."

Joanne Wilkinson wrote for Booklist, "Harty displays an incredibly assured sense of storytelling in his first book, grounding his stories in telling details, noble gestures, and a palpable sense of place. His stories will break your heart."

Harty's stories have been widely published in literary magazines, including Tin House and the Missouri Review, and have received a Henfield-Transatlantic Review Award.

John Smolens' most recent novel, "Cold," is just out in paperback. His other books are "The Invisible World," "Free and Clear," "Winter by Degrees," "Angel's Head" and "My One and Only Bomb Shelter." He is the head of the Master of Fine Arts creative writing program at Northern Michigan University, and most of his works are set in the state's Upper Peninsula.

J. Kingston Pierce wrote of "Cold," "John Smolens's matter-of-fact narrative style pairs ideally with this gritty yarn about a convict who, after fleeing a work detail in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, sets off through a snowstorm to reclaim the life he'd enjoyed before his duplicitous family sent him to prison. . . 'Cold' is fiction to chill the soul -- too revealing of human selfishness to be easily read, too well-written to be easily put down."

Jim Harrison called the book "a finely crafted, wild yarn set in the great north. John Smolens gives us a suspenseful tale in a style somewhere between Jack London and Raymond Chandler. A fine read."

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