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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 27, 2004

'Live From Prairie Lights' Features UI Alumnus Peter Craig Week Of March 8-12

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Peter Craig will be featured on the "Live from Prairie Lights" readings series -- hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910 -- during the week of March 8-12.

The week's broadcasts from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be:
-- Binnie Kirshenbaum reading from her new novel, "An Almost Perfect Moment" at 8 p.m. Monday, March 8;
-- English novelist Sarah Dunant reading from the historical fiction "The Birth of Venus" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 10;
-- Guy Vanderhaeghe reading from his novel of the Canadian Old West, "The Last Crossing," at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 11; and
-- Craig reading from his new novel "Hot Plastic" at 8 p.m. Friday, March 12.

Listen to the readings on the Internet at

"An Almost Perfect Moment" is the unlikely story of a Jewish girl who looks like a famous vision of the Virgin Mary and seems to possess a mysterious destructive power.

In a Booklist review, critic Donna Seaman wrote, "Kirshenbaum's novels are smart, funny, and provocative. Her last book, 'Hester among the Ruins' is a spiky inquiry into the aftermath of the Holocaust. Her latest, set in a Jewish enclave in Brooklyn, is a quicksilver fable that manages to be at once ironic and mystical, tender and edgy, loaded with shtick and downright subversive. . . Writing with diamond-like clarity, high imagination, mischievous wit, and a whole lot of chutzpah, Kirshenbaum ingeniously and daringly inverts biblical tales and social mores to tell an exhilarating story of a living deity in an attempt to illuminate the obdurate mysteries of the human heart and the truly cosmic dimensions of love."

Sarah Dunant's new novel is set in 14th-century Florence at the height of the Renaissance. Antonia Fraser commented, "Simply amazing, so brilliantly written. . . . almost intolerably exciting at times, and at others, equally poignant."

And Simon Schama called the book "A beautiful serpent of a novel, seductive and dangerous . . . full of wise guile, the most brilliant novel yet from a writer of powerful historical imagination and wicked literary gifts. Dunant's snaky tale of art, sex and Florentine hysteria consumes utterly -- but the experience is all pleasure."

Dunant has written eight novels and edited two books of essays. Until recently she hosted the BBC Radio arts program "Night Waves." Now a full-time writer, she is adapting her novels "Transgressions" and "Mapping the Edge" for the screen.

Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Last Crossing" was a best-seller in Canada and winner of the Canadian Booksellers Association's Fiction Book of the Year Award. The novel has also been shortlisted for the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize.

A preview in Publishers Weekly commented, "Vanderhaeghe is a prodigiously gifted writer who makes the West, its fierce weathers, rugged landscapes and contrary characters come to life in a way comparable to McMurtry at his best."

John Vernon wrote for the New York Times Book Review, Vanderhaeghe is "a Dickensian sensationalist. His flair for the lurid can be exquisite." And a starred review in the Kirkus Reviews described the book as "sumptuously imagined and fashioned with a master craftsman's attentiveness and finesse . . . Brilliant work."

A Saskatchewan native, Vanderhaeghe is the author of six books of fiction, which have won the Governor's General's Award, the Faber Prize, the City of Toronto Book Award and Saskatchewan Book Awards for fiction and for Best Book of the Year.

Peter Craig grabbed the attention of the literary world with "The Martini Shot." His new "Hot Plastic" is a tale of a family of grifters.

Richard North Patterson, author of " Protect and Defend," wrote: "From the electric, jazzy beginning to the startling climax, 'Hot Plastic' is a funny, smart and compulsively readable joyride." And Tony Hillerman predicted, "Peter Craig's novel of outlaw life at the end of the century will be a collector's item. It's a winner."

Craig grew up dividing his time between Los Angeles -- his mother is actress Sally Field -- and an Oregon commune. Through the Writers' Workshop he was the recipient of a James Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.

The Writers' Workshop is a unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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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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