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University of Iowa News Release


April 23, 2007

Sherman Alexie Reads From New Novel May 7 For 'Live From Prairie Lights'

Sherman Alexie -- novelist, poet, essayist, filmmaker and stand-up comic -- will read from "Flight," his new novel about foster children, at 7 p.m. Monday, May 7, in Shambaugh Auditorium of the University of Iowa Main Library. Listen live via the UI Writing University Website:

The free event will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on AM 910 WSUI in Iowa City, AM 640 WOI in Ames and AM 1010 KRNI in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI in Iowa City.

Donna Seaman wrote for Booklist, "It's tough enough to be an orphan and a ward of the state, let alone a so-called half-breed. Heck, being 15 years old is no freaking picnic, especially if your face is so badly marred by acne your nickname is Zits. Add to that a devastating history of abuse, and no wonder Zits, a gun in each hand, is about to exact revenge on strangers in a bank. Has Alexie, a high-profile writer known for provocative, inventive, in-your-face fiction about Native American life, written a classic troubled youth-turned-killer tale?

"Of course not. This is a time-travel fable about the legacy of prejudice and pain. Zits is inexplicably catapulted back to 1975, where he inhabits the body of a white FBI agent confronting radical Indian activists, the first episode in an out-of-body odyssey. Smart, funny, and resilient, Zits is profoundly transformed, as the hero in a tale of ordeals is supposed to be, by his shape-shifting experiences as an Indian boy at Little Big Horn, an Indian tracker, a homeless Indian drunk, and a pilot in unnerving proximity to a Muslim terrorist.

"Alexie's concentrated and mesmerizing novel of instructive confrontations is structured around provocative variations on the meanings and implications of flight as it asserts that people of all backgrounds are equally capable of good and evil."

Alexie's work is represented in more than 20 novels, short-story collections, poetry collections, anthologies and films.

A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Wash. He attended Gonzaga University and Washington State University, where he discovered writing. Shortly after receiving a bachelor's degree in American Studies, Alexie received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.

His first collection of short stories, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," received a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction, and was awarded a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. Alexie was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists and won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award and the Murray Morgan Prize for his first novel, "Reservation Blues."

His first film project, "Smoke Signals," won the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, and he made his stand-up comedy debut in 1999.

The Writing University Web site provides a handy portal to the UI writing programs -- including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Translation Workshop, the UI Press and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. The site also centralizes writing news, lists upcoming events and provides access to a wealth of writing materials -- texts, journals, lists of Iowa-connected writers and publications, historic videos and archived audio. Visitors to the site have the option of subscribing to an RSS feed.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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;