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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 26, 2003

'Live from Prairie Lights' To Feature UI Alumnae

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnae Katy Lederer and Rachel Zucker will be featured in a joint reading on "Live from Prairie Lights," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7. The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be broadcast live on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910, from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

Also on the program that week will be:
-- Jonathan Lethem, reading from his new novel, "The Fortress of Solitude," at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6; and
-- Barbara Croft reading from her new novel, "Moon's Crossing," at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.

Listen to the Prairie Lights readings -- America's only radio series of live readings -- on the internet at

National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Jonathan Lethem is the genre-jumping author of "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Gun with Occasional Music." "Motherless Brooklyn" was named Novel of the Year by Esquire magazine and the Salon Book Award, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon wrote of "The Fortress of Solitude," "Lethem has done a number of things here, any one of which is impossible for any but the very finest novelists. He has vividly and lovingly and truthfully, through thrilling evocation of its music, its popular culture, its street games, argot, pharmacology, social mores and racial politics, recreated a world, a moment in history that I would have thought lost and irrecoverable. He has created, in young Dylan, a genuine literary hero. He has reinvented and reinvigorated the myths of the superhero, of black-white relations, of New York City itself. But most of all, from my point of view, he captures precisely -- as only a great novelist can -- how it feels to love the world that is, on a daily basis, kicking your ass."

A preview in Publishers Weekly concluded, "This novel confirms Lethem's status as the poet of Brooklyn and of motherless boys. Projected through the prism of race relations, black music and pop art, Lethem's stunning, disturbing and authoritatively observed narrative covers three decades of turbulent events on Dean Street, Brooklyn. . . . the plot manages to encompass pop music from punk rock to rap, avant-garde art, graffiti, drug use, gentrification, the New York prison system -- and to sing a vibrant, sometimes heartbreaking ballad of Brooklyn throughout. Lethem seems to have devoured the '70s, '80s and '90s -- inhaled them whole -- and he reproduces them faithfully on the page, in prose as supple as silk and as bright, explosive and illuminating as fireworks. Scary and funny and seriously surreal, the novel hurtles on a trajectory that feels inevitable."

Katy Lederer is the poet of "Winter Sex" and "Music, No Staves," but her new book is a memoir, "Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers." James McManus described the book, which recalls her upbringing in a family of Las Vegas high-rollers and her detour into writing, as an "hilarious feminist memoir, cold-eyed report on the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and inside look at the world of professional poker."

George Plimpton commented, "The intricacies of family and the complexities of the games they play mingle wonderfully here in a memoir quite unlike any other."

Rachel Zucker's debut volume of poetry is "Eating in the Underworld," which Writers Workshop faculty member Cole Swenson called "a hauntingly sonorous treatment of the Persephone Myth."

Zucker, the daughter of storyteller Diane Wolkstein and novelist Benjamin Zucker, was raised in New York's Greenwich Village and traveled around the world with her parents on Wolkstein's folktale-collecting trips.

She was the winner of the Salt Hill Poetry Award, the Barrow Street Poetry Prize and the Center for Book Arts Award. Her poems have appeared in journals including 3rd Bed, the American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, the Colorado Review, Epoch, Fence, the Iowa Review, Pleiades and Prairie Schooner, as well as in the "Best American Poetry 2001" anthology.

Barbara Croft, the author of the collections "Necessary Fictions" and "Primary Colors and Other Stories," has set her first novel at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Kirkus Reviews described the book as "a beautiful and intricate account of a world in transition."

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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,