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University of Iowa News Release

May 23, 2006

Chinese/French Fiction Writer Shan Sa Reads June 6

Shan Sa, a Beijing-born fiction writer who now lives in France, will read from her new novel, "The Empress," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The reading, co-sponsored by the University of Iowa International Writing Program, will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

Kirkus Reviews' critique stated, "In sharp contrast to her tightly focused 'The Girl Who Played Go' Shan Sa has written a sweeping panoramic historical novel about the seventh century's Tang dynasty and China's only woman emperor...  A compelling read and surprisingly easy to follow, given its exotic complexity."

Calling the book a "brilliant historical novel," Brad Hooper wrote for Booklist,

"Based on the controversial reign of Empress Wu, this fictional biography illuminates the life and times of one of the ancient world's most powerful, capable, and overlooked women."

Shan Sa was born in Beijing, began writing at the age of 7, and had her first poems, essays and short stories published at the age of 8. In 1990 she moved to Paris, where she learned French, studied philosophy and worked for the painter Balthus. With her first two novels she won the Goncourt Prize and the Cazes Prize. She is also a celebrated painter whose works have been shown in prominent exhibitions in Paris and New York.

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