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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 13, 2006

Kaye Gibbons Reads On WSUI 'Live From Prairie Lights' Jan. 23

Oprah-anointed fiction writer Kaye Gibbons will read from her new novel, "Life All Around Me By Ellen Fisher," at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The broadcast, hosted by Julie Englander, will originate as a live event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Gibbons' new novel is "written" by the orphan from an earlier novel, now growing up. Publishers Weekly explained, "In this folksy sequel to the 1997 Oprah pick 'Ellen Foster,' Gibbons' plucky heroine is 15 and hoping for early admission to Harvard on account of 'all the surplus living that was jammed into the years.'

"Having survived trauma and tragedy, Ellen has found safety with a loving foster mother. She sells her poetry to underachieving classmates, thereby paying her way to a camp for the gifted at Johns Hopkins, where she realizes she doesn't know 'how to feel at home out in the world or at home either.'

"She returns to North Carolina, goes to the fair, negotiates a marriage proposal from her best friend and learns that her aunt has cheated her out of her inheritance. The plot is minimal; the pleasure for fans will be in Ellen's idiosyncratic worldview and signature syntax ('The rhythm of the world out here picks up when the farmer across the road begins plowing. . . . Crossing the wide ditch and walking . . . as the ground's being turned over to expose arrowheads, which you may find one or several of, I was getting dirty in the good clothes I shouldn't have been over there in'). Even as good guys falter, readers can trust that all will be right in the end in this extended curtain call for a fondly remembered character."

In a Booklist starred review, Mary Ellen Quinn wrote, "Ellen is still a remarkable creation, and her narrative voice, while it has matured and grown more sophisticated, remains compelling and unique."

Gibbons is the author of seven bestselling novels. "Ellen Foster" was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. That novel, as well as Gibbons' "A Virtuous Woman," was chosen for Oprah's Book Club.

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,

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