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University of Iowa News Release

May 12, 2004

UI Faculty Member D.K. Smith Reads On WSUI Prairie Lights Series

D.K. Smith, an Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus who teaches Medieval literature at the University of Iowa, will read from his debut novel, "Nothing Disappears," at 8 p.m. Friday, May 21 in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The free reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

On Thursday, May 20, the WSUI program will feature Anchee Min, author of the acclaimed autobiography "Red Azalea," reading from her new novel, "Empress Orchid," about life in the Forbidden City during the Chi'ing Dynasty. The reading, at 8 p.m., will also be a free event at Prairie Lights.

Marilyn Abildskov wrote in January magazine, "A yellow scarf drawn from a buttonhole. A tiny green frog plucked from a child's ear. A glass of pink, frothy sherbet thrown high into the air that lands in the hands of a woman not as spilled punch but a large silk gardenia. These are a few of the magic tricks that crop up in "Nothing Disappears," D.K. Smith's absorbing debut novel that demonstrates the past won't stay past, no one ever dies, absence has presence and love is the real mystery -- a trick of timing as well as grace."

Donna Seaman wrote of "Empress Orchid" for the American Library Association's Booklist, "In her second powerful and brilliantly conceived fictionalized portrait of a strong and controversial woman intrinsic to Chinese culture, Min continues to fulfill her mission to tell the truth about her homeland, particularly China's long tradition of demonizing women.

"In 'Becoming Madame Mao' Min portrays a vilified 20th-century figure. Here she steps back to the 19th century to illuminate the extraordinary life of the Last Empress of China, Tzu Hsi, or Orchid. The official version castigates the empress as a conniving concubine responsible for the collapse of the Ch'ing Dynasty as China came under assault by European powers, but Min considers her a shrewd and courageous survivor, political tactician, and leader worthy of deep respect.

"Writing with vigor, clarity, and lavish detail, Min tells Orchid's consuming story through the empress' sharp eyes as she rose, through great sacrifice, from abject poverty to the lonely position of fourth concubine to become the besieged emperor's most trusted advisor and mother of his only son and heir."

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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,