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University of Iowa News Release

July 13, 2006

Short-Story Writers Fraterrigo And Conroy Read On WSUI July 28

Fiction writers Melissa Fraterrigo and Alicia L. Conroy will read from their debut short-story collections at 7 p.m. Friday, July 28, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI-AM 910.

Julie Englander will host the broadcast, which will originate in a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Fraterrigo, a UI English Department alumna, will read from "The Longest Pregnancy," a collection of fantastical stories that explore marriage, family, friendship and heartache, and Conroy will read from "Lives of Mapmakers," her collection of magical, ethereal stories that chronicle the lives of characters as disparate as a contemporary farm worker and a 16th-century cartographer.

"The Longest Pregnancy" was the winner of the 2005 Tartt First Fiction Award. Beth Dugan of Time Out Chicago recommended, "Fraterrigo presents her worlds just as they appear to her: skewed, extraordinary and unbelievable, but always rooted in truth. Lovers of magical realism and any reader who wants to briefly escape our mundane reality should dive into this book."

Jerome Ludwig made the book a Chicago Reader Critic's Choice: "The 14 wildly inventive stories in Melissa Fraterrigo's new collection, 'The Longest Pregnancy,' could be episodes of 'The Twilight Zone.' By turns sweet, sad, twisted, funny, disturbing, and downright creepy, there's not a clunker in the bunch."

Fraterrigo's stories have been nominated for the Fountain Award from the Speculative Literature Foundation and for a Pushcart Award. She was awarded the Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing from The Carolina Quarterly in 2001 and in 2000, and won the Sam Adams/Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest. After graduating from the UI, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Bowling Green State University.

Conroy is also a graduate of the Bowling Green State program. Wendell Mayo wrote of "Lives of Mapmakers," "In this astonishing debut, Alicia L. Conroy takes us on a journey from the palpably familiar to the deliciously imaginative realms of truth. These are brave stories, undaunted by convention and the humdrum of our times. Each is one of a kind, gorgeously hand-drawn, inspired by bold dreams, rendered with precision, together a true and beautiful atlas of the human heart."

Julie Hanus wrote in the Utne Reader, "In her debut collection of short fiction, Alicia Conroy seamlessly slips between the mundane and the surreal, crafting landscapes where mermaids tumble from creek beds, spring doesn't always follow winter, and bodies consistently resist definition. . . . Each story is distinct as Conroy exercises a range of narrative techniques and voices, but together they're a coherent exploration of longing, hope, and the pursuit of meaning."

Conroy lived in Denmark and Wales, and worked in Boston for 13 years before returning to her hometown of Minneapolis. She received a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College.

The English Department is a unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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