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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 9, 2004

‘Live From Prairie Lights’ Readings Set For Feb. 16-20

The "Live from Prairie Lights" readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910 will range from basketball to black/gay history the week of Feb. 16-20.

The broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be:
-- Sports Illustrated reporter Alexander Wolff reading from “Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure” at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16;
-- Haven Kimmel reading from her new novel, “Something Rising (Light and Swift)” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17;
-- Chinese-American writer Wang Ping reading from her new collection of poetry and prose, “The Magic Whip” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18; and
-- historian John D’Emilio reading from “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin” at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20.

Listen to the readings on the internet at

“Big Game, Small World” is a sports travelogue that tracks the international growth and popularity of Dr. Naismith’s flourishing invention through stories and interviews in 16 nations and eight states.

A Publishers Weekly preview explained, “In the middle of a 1998 Princeton game, Wolff had an epiphany: he would become a roundball anthropologist. His first expedition was to explore professional basketball culture in Europe and to record indigenous versions in Japan, the Philippines, Bhutan and Brazil. He proves that the game's essence transcends national boundaries, and he turns up dozens of dedicated, delightful even tragic basketball stories and characters in what will seem unlikely places to an average Kansas State fan, for instance.”

A starred review in Booklist commented, “Wolff first burst on the scene two decades ago as the coauthor of “The In-Your-Face-Basketball Book” (1980), a hoop junkie's nationwide guide to the best pickup and playground basketball in the country. ... Wolff's passion for the game burns as feverishly as it did 20 years ago, when he was looking for pickup games. This is a wonderful book, certainly the best on basketball this season.”

Small-town Indiana was described in Haven Kimmel’s best-selling memoir, “A Girl Named Zippy,” and the novel “The Solace of Leaving Early,” and she returns to that locale with her new novel, “Something Rising (Light and Swift),” the story of a girl who becomes a pool hustler after her father abandons the family.

“Kimmel's characters are sympathetic and believable, and the author proves herself equally deft at conveying smalltown desolation and the physics of pool,” a Publishers Weekly preview observed. “With a tougher core than her previous books, and an ending that's redemptive without being cliched, Kimmel's latest is another winner.”

Reviewer Elizabeth Berg wrote, “What intelligence is here, and what grace, and what unsentimental (and contagious!) love for our messy ways here on planet Earth. Haven Kimmel is true gospel wearing blue jeans; you read her and you are lifted up.”

In addition to studying creative writing in college, Kimmel attended a Quaker seminary.

Shanghai-born Wang Ping is not only a poet, but also a novelist, short-story writer and scholar. “The Magic Whip” is a collage of poetry and prose that treats issues including immigration and exile, motherhood, family and national histories.

One of those topics is footbinding, about which Wang earlier wrote a scholarly work, “Aching for Beauty.” Critic Patricia Monaghan wrote, “The whip of the title was the waist-length pigtail of a young girl, the symbol of her nubility and untried sexuality and, as such, analogous to the bound ‘lotus foot’ that kept Chinese women virtually immobile and, perhaps for that reason, held erotic power for men.

“(She) braids the two emblems of sexual status together in this book's disturbing title poem, chiming their images with men's traditional queues, shaven pubic hair, hair bleach, permanent waves, and other tokens of power and sex. Her other poems similarly work at the margins of culture, power, and gender, though never in an ideologically simplistic way. ... Wang Ping moves between ancient and modern China, between domesticity and wild freedom, between eroticism and politics, and her compelling juxtapositions jar the reader into experiencing insight.”

Lambda Award-winner John D’Emilio’s “Lost Prophet” marks the 40th anniversary of the 1963 civil rights march on Washington by describing the complicated life of one of the almost-forgotten pioneers of the civil rights movement. D’Emilio argues that Rustin was marginalized because he was openly gay in an era that criminalized homosexuality.

D'Emilio, the author of “Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970,” draws on interviews with Rustin's colleagues, friends and lovers to explore the activist's life, including his Quaker upbringing, his imprisonment for draft dodging and his relationship with Martin Luther King Jr.

George Chauncey, author of “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940,” wrote, “In this absorbing reappraisal of Bayard Rustin's tumultuous life and times, John D'Emilio shows how Rustin became one of the most brilliant and influential strategists of the peace and civil rights movements in the 1950s, and then came to be reviled as a conservative by many leftists in the late 1960s.

“D'Emilio also provides a stunning account of how Rustin's homosexuality shaped his career, as his foes -- from Strom Thurmond to Adam Clayton Powell -- tried to use it to discredit his leadership and force him into the shadows. This revelatory work of biography finally restores Rustin to history in all of his complexity and humanity.”

D'Emilio is professor of history and of gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, from 1995 to 1997 he served as the Founding Director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

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

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