The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 26, 2004

Russell Reads From New WWII Novel Feb. 8 On WSUI 'Live From Prairie Lights'

Mary Doria Russell, author of the theologically based science fiction novels "The Sparrow" and "Children of God," will read from "Thread of Grace," a novel set in Italy during the final stages of World War II, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

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

Critic Mary Ellen Quinn wrote for Booklist, "Russell is good at presenting the human story while never using the war merely as a backdrop for personal dramas. In fact, to mirror the arbitrary nature of survival during wartime, she has said that she flipped a coin to determine who among her characters would live and who would die."

A starred preview in Publishers Weekly summarized, "Busy, noisy and heartfelt, this sprawling novel by Russell -- a striking departure from her previous two acclaimed SF thrillers, 'The Sparrow' and 'Children of God' -- chronicles the Italian resistance to the Germans during the last two years of WWII. . . The action moves swiftly, with impressive authority, jostling dialogue, vibrant personalities and meticulous, unexpected historical detail. The intensity and intimacy of Russell's storytelling, her sharp character writing and fierce sense of humor bring fresh immediacy to this riveting WWII saga."

And former UI faculty member David Morrell, author of "The Brotherhood of the Rose" and "First Blood," wrote, "Fans of Mary Doria Russell's 'The Sparrow' and 'Children of God' will be thrilled by her masterful new novel. 'A Thread of Grace' is a rich, multi-layered narrative that offers fresh insight into a devastating time in world affairs. A story of love and war, it speaks to the resilience and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of unimaginable horror. It is, unquestionably, a literary triumph."

Raised Catholic, Russell is a convert to Judaism. In addition to her fiction writing, Russell is the author of prize-winning research in paleoanthropology, with specialties in biomechanics and bone biology.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

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,