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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 18, 2004

Thisbe Nissen Returns To 'Live From Prairie Lights' Sept. 1

Fiction writer Thisbe Nissen, a University of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna who has put down roots in Iowa City, has been a frequent guest on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series of broadcast readings, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. She will return at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, to read from her new novel, "Osprey Island."

The reading will be a free event at the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Review Behlor Santi explains, "'Osprey Island' takes place in 1988, as tourist season at the Lodge at Osprey Island is about to begin. Suzy Chizek returns, yet again, to her dysfunctional family, toting her out-of-wedlock daughter Mia along. She loathes her father Bud, the owner of the Lodge; and her mother Nancy is a cipher, still mourning the death of her son Chas, killed in Vietnam.

Another part of Osprey Island's "family" is the Squires -- Lance and Lorna, the housekeepers at the Lodge. The Squires are alcoholics and parents of a young son, Squee. Lorna's extraordinarily bad housekeeping leads to her death in a shed fire, and her death opens the lid of Pandora's box, revealing all the secrets of the resort island that sells postcards populated by ospreys."

Nissen, who grew up in New York, says the novel was based on her memories of Shelter Island, a resort location where her family spent summers and weekends. But the story is not about the place: "The story definitely came from the characters. But I'd also say that I feel like my allegiance was to the characters, and the characters I'm dealing with here are mostly locals -- the tourists haven't yet arrived for the season in the time span of the novel -- and the locals are the people I cared about representing."

Rob Cline wrote for, "Nissen's knack for creating characters whose emotions and motivations ring true drives the novel and allows her to render indelible, well-crafted scenes of striking originality."

Nissen's previous work includes the short-story collection "Out of the Girl's Room and into the Night," the novel "The Good People of New York," and (with Erin Ergenbright) "The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook."

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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,