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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 18, 2007

Colombian Novelist Will Read For 'Live From Prairie Lights' Broadcasts Jan. 31

Colombian novelist James Canon will read from his debut novel, "Tales from the Town of Widows," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series originating on University of Iowa radio station WSUI-AM 910.

Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, will air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910, WOI-AM 640 and KRNI-AM 1010. A program will also be broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on KSUI-FM 91.7.

Canon's novel takes place in the small town of Mariquita, whose male population is ordered to join a guerilla band or face execution. The women of Mariquita must adjust to life without men.

Lisa Shea wrote in Elle Magazine, "From its bravura opening, in which the men of a fictional Colombian mountain town have been marched off to fight in a decades-long guerrilla war, leaving the womenfolk to form a new social order, James Canon's brilliant 'Tales from the Town of Widows' has an imaginative reach that encompasses political, philosophical, sexual, religious and magical realms, while it also explores the deeper conflicts between tradition and freedom that underlie this mesmerizing debut novel."

A review in Booklist commented, "Start with a broth of magic realism a la Garcia-Marquez, toss in a soupçon of William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies,' add a twist of the musical play 'Brigadoon' and even some ingredients from the Book of Genesis, and then top off with some borrowings from post-revolutionary France, and you have a first novel that is not a derivative pot of unintegrated elements but an inventively rich stew ... . The characterizations are drawn as compellingly as the storyline itself, which simply gets increasingly delicious as the pages turn."

After majoring in advertising in Bogata, Canon moved to New York to study English and later earned his master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University. He was awarded the 2001 Henfield Prize for Excellence in Fiction and was one of three finalists in the inaugural cycle of the International Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative.

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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;

OTHER INFORMATION: Canon (spelled with a tilde on the "n" in Spanish) is pronounced cahn-YONE.