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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 27, 2006

Writers' Workshop Alumnus O'Malley Reads On 'Live From Prairie Lights'

Irish writer Thomas O'Malley, graduate of the Writer's Workshop, will read from his debut novel, "In the Province of Saints," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. The broadcast will originate as a free event hosted by Julie Englander in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

"In the Province of Saints," set in 1970s and '80s rural Ireland, a shy boy grows up in the shadow of dark community and family secrets.

Ron Charles wrote in the Washington Post's Book World, "'In the Province of Saints' is sometimes so sad that you want to look away, but it's always so beautiful that you won't miss a line."

A preview in Publishers Weekly stated, "Even in a field crowded by the wake of 'Angela's Ashes,' this first novel of a hardscrabble Irish childhood stands out for its eloquence and its bleakness. . . . (H)is sentences have a judicious clarity even as they twist into gnarled shapes; they carry O'Malley's characters though their incomprehension with poise and assurance."

Critic Annie Tully wrote, "O'Malley serves up a remarkable cast of characters -- from a bullying neighbor to the stoic girl with whom Michael falls in love. But at the core of this small, isolated community is a helplessness against death, as everyone seems to be waiting out life rather than living it. While the story here is indeed quite captivating, it's O'Malley's prose that will keep readers in awe. He is a remarkable new voice. "

O'Malley was raised in Ireland and England before coming to the UI. He has been a Returning Writing Fellow and recipient of the Grace Paley Endowed Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass.

He has published fiction in literary magazines including Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Shenandoah, Natural Bridge, the Blue Mesa Review, the Crab Orchard Review, New Millennium Writings, Vanguard, FriGG and the Mississippi Review. His work also appears in the anthologies "Where Love is Found" and "A People's Fictional History of the United States."

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

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