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University of Iowa News Release

March 20, 2006

March 31 WSUI Reading Features Greek Novelist Vassilis Alexakis

A reading at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature noted Greek novelist Vassilis Alexakis, reading from his new book, "Foreign Words."

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

"Foreign Words," translated by Alyson Waters, journeys through time and space with the storyteller as he travels from Paris to Greece to Central Africa.

Published in French as "Les mots etrangers," the novel was selected as one of the 20 best books in any genre of 2002 by the editors of the literary magazine Lire. It was short-listed for two major French literary awards, the Renaudaut Prize and the Interallie Prize.

The English translation of the book is the second title published by Autumn Hill Books, founded by Russell Valentino, associate professor of Russian and of cinema and comparative literature in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and an Obermann Center Fellow.

The book was published with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Greece. The translation by Waters, a member of the faculty of Yale University, was supported by a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Alexakis is the author of "Avant," "La langue maternelle" and "Papa," all in French, and "Talgo," which he wrote in Greek and later translated into French. He has also produced four films and a collection of drawings.

"La langue maternelle" was awarded the prestigious Medicis Prize, "Papa" was awarded the Academie francaise Prize for Best Short Story Collection and "Avant" was awarded the Albert Camus Prize. In 2003 Alexakis was awarded the Prix Edouard Glissant.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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