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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 16, 2006

Hamilton Headlines Oct. 23-26 Readings On 'Live From Prairie Lights'

PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Jane Hamilton will headline the Oct. 23-26 readings on "Live from Prairie Lights," broadcast at 7 p.m. each evening on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910. Hamilton will read from her new novel "When Madeline Was Young" in a free event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library.

The week's other readings, all broadcast from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, will be:

-- Heidi Julavits reading from her new novel, "The Uses of Enchantment," on Monday, Oct. 23;

-- Barry Lopez reading from "Home Ground," the new anthology he co-edited with Debra Gwartney, on Wednesday, Oct. 25; and

-- journalist Joe Miller reading from his first book, "Cross X: A Turbulent, Triumphant Season With an Inner-City Debate Squad," on Thursday, Oct. 26.

The "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander, is accessible on the Internet at

Julavits' novel concerns the mystery of a teenage girl who disappeared and reappeared a month later with no memory of what had occurred. A starred review in Publishers Weekly concluded, "the mystery of what did happen to Mary Veal will enthrall the reader to the very last page."

Julavits is the author of two previous novels, "The Mineral Palace" and "The Effect of Living Backwards," as well as a collaborative book, "Hotel Andromeda," with artist Jenny Gage. She is a founding editor of Believer, and her writings have appeared in Esquire, Time, the New York Times, McSweeney's and other publications.

In a review of Hamilton's new novel in the Washington Post's Book World, Carrie Brown observed: "Writers and readers, like rubber-necking drivers, are drawn to stories of misdeeds. Peril makes a plot interesting, and the ugly thrill of disaster is hard to resist. Yet the more difficult and perhaps more humane task is to locate the drama of the well-lived life, the mystery of the human soul inclined toward the theological notion of caritas, the Latin word meaning charitable kindness toward others. In her beautiful new novel, 'When Madeline Was Young,' Jane Hamilton has created a story that goes to the heart of the mystery of caritas, and she has revealed in the apparently flat line of a good life a vital and absorbing human drama.

"'When Madeline Was Young' is her most distinguished work so far, a story in which tragedy is balanced brilliantly against the consolations and pleasures of ordinary life. Like Marilynne Robinson's 'Gilead,' the deceptively quiet-sounding ruminations of a dying preacher that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, 'When Madeline Was Young' contemplates human nature not through its worst incarnations but through its best, and the experience is utterly elevating and joyful, a long spiritual drink in a parched  landscape."

Hamilton is the author of "The Book of Ruth," winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction; "A Map of the World," a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and named one of the top 10 books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, the Miami Herald, and People magazine; "Disobedience"; and "The Short History of a Prince."

Lopez asked 45 poets and writers to define terms that describe America's land and water forms -- phrases like flatiron, bayou, monadnock, kiss tank, meander bar and everglade. The result is "Home Ground," comprising more than 850 descriptions, 100 line drawings, and 70 quotations from works by Willa Cather, Truman Capote, John Updike, Cormac McCarthy and others.

The Publishers Weekly starred review said, "Drawing on the polyglot richness of American English, National Book Award-winning author Lopez ('Arctic Dreams') assembles 45 writers, known for their intimate connection to particular places, to collectively create a unique American dictionary. . . . This marvelous book enlivens readers to the rich diversity of Americans' complex relationship to the land."

In "Cross X," Miller chronicles a year in the life of the inner-city Kansas City Central debate team. Tim Wise, author of "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son" and "Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White," wrote, "'Cross-X' is one of the most original and compelling narratives about race class and education that I have ever read. . . .

"Miller proves himself both a first-rate storyteller, and a keen observer of the way in which urban communities (and the people who live there) have been decimated by racism and economic apartheid. The young men and women at the heart of this volume, who show their resolve in struggling against a culture of intellectual elitism within the world of competitive debate, and the society at large, are heroes in every sense of the word; and Miller, by telling their story, has done a great service to us all."

Miller's writing has appeared in the Pitch, Poets & Writers, Art in America, Art Papers, the New Art Examiner, the Rocky Mountain News and the Boulder County Business Report. He is the 2003 recipient of the President's Award Recognizing Outstanding Contributions in Journalism from the Kansas City Press Club.

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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; cell: 310-430-1013;