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University of Iowa News Release

April 23, 2004

Native Iowan John Price Comes To Prairie Lights May 6

The "Live from Prairie Lights" readings series, hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature native Iowan John Price on Thursday, May 6.

The week's "Live from Prairie Lights" broadcasts, from the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:
-- best-selling novelist Elizabeth Berg reading from her new novel, "The Art of Mending," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 4;
-- Holocaust scholar Jenna Blum reading from her debut novel, "Those Who Save Us" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 5; and
-- Price, joined by Iowa author Mary Swander, one of his subjects in "Not Just Any Land," at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 6.

Admission is free to the readings at Prairie Lights book store, or listen to the broadcasts on the internet at

Of "The Art of Mending," Joanne Wilkinson wrote for the American Library Association's Booklist, "The prolific Berg is unafraid of tackling gritty domestic issues such as aging and illness; in her latest, she takes on the question of why a mother would be so caring with two of her children but treat the third with great cruelty. . . This is a skillful popular treatment of a troubling family issue."

A preview of "Those Who Save Us" in Publishers Weekly observed, "Blum, who worked for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, takes a direct, unsentimental look at the Holocaust in her first novel. The narrative alternates between the present-day story of Trudy, a history professor at a Minneapolis university collecting oral histories of WWII survivors (both German and Jewish), and that of her aged but once beautiful German mother, Anna, who left her country when she married an American soldier. . . .

"Ultimately, present and past overlap with a shocking yet believable coincidence. Blum's spare imagery is nightmarish and intimate, imbuing familiar panoramas of Nazi atrocity with stark new power. This is a poised, hair-raising debut."

Price is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His essays on nature have appeared in Orion, the Christian Science Monitor and "Best Spiritual Writing 2000." In "Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey into the American Grasslands," he sought to come to an understanding of the peculiar character of the prairie.

Critic Danise Hoover wrote, "Native Iowan Price goes on a journey to capture a sense of the American prairie, but instead of taking a predictable geographic and botanical trip, he brings readers on a literary one. His method of defining the physical, emotional, and spiritual meaning of the grasslands is to analyze the work of authors currently writing about the unique 'place' the prairie continues to be, and to look closely at the authors themselves.

"Each of the four -- Linda Hasselstrom, Dan O'Brien, William Least Heat-Moon and Mary Swander -- writes specifically and distinctly about this landscape, and, as Price reveals, each writer's focus and purpose, as often as not, is in contradiction to their counterparts. Price is a gifted writer, but perhaps he's most talented as an interviewer. Despite his admiration, he is able to draw from his subjects essential information that defines them and their work, and to shine a critical light on their arguments and justifications. His journey leaves him transformed, as it may well transform the reader."

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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