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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 31, 2007

Note: The Feb. 13 reading by Massimo Pigliucci has been cancelled due to travel problems

Pigliucci, Alarcón Read For WSUI 'Live From Prairie Lights' Feb. 13-14

Evolution and war will take center stage in free readings by Massimo Pigliucci and Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Daniel Alarcón at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 13 and 14, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live on the Internet

The free readings 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 and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on AM 910 WSUI, AM 640 WOI and AM 1010 KRNI. A program will also be broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI.

Pigliucci (right, with spoon), associate professor of ecology and evolution at SUNY-Stony Brook, will read from "Making Sense of Evolution," in conjunction with Iowa City's First Annual Darwin Day. His work is hosted at, a site devoted to positive skepticism.

"Making Sense of Evolution," co-authored with Jonathan Kaplan, explores contemporary evolutionary biology, focusing on the elements of theories -- selection, adaptation, and species -- that are complex and open to multiple possible interpretations, many of which are incompatible with one another and with other accepted practices in the discipline. Pigliucci and Kaplan intertwine scientific and philosophical analysis to produce a coherent picture of contemporary evolutionary biology.

Alarcón (right) exploded onto the literary scene with his short-story collection, "War By Candlelight," which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His debut novel, "Lost City Radio," takes place in a nameless South American country, torn by war and traumatized by disappearances.

"Bel Canto" author Ann Patchett wrote, "Daniel Alarcón writes about subterfuge, lies and the arbitrary recreation of history with a masterful clarity. By accepting the premise that war is senseless, he goes on to make sense of the lives that are destroyed in its wake. 'Lost City Radio' is both ambitious and resonant."

In a starred Booklist review, critic Donna Seaman wrote, "Fiction lovers recognized a clarion new voice in Alarcón's short story collection, 'War by Candlelight' (2005). Lima-born Alarcón now presents a debut novel that is a marvel of concision and soulfulness. . . Writing rapturously and elegiacally of the wildness in both jungle and city, creating indelible images that concentrate the horrors of war, and unerringly articulating the complex feelings of individuals caught in barbaric and senseless predicaments, Alarcón reaches to the heart of our persistent if elusive dream of freedom and peace"

Alarcón's fiction and nonfiction have been published in the New Yorker, Harper's, Virginia Quarterly Review, Salon, Eyeshot and elsewhere, and anthologized in "Best American Non-Required Reading" 2004 and 2005.

He is Associate Editor of Etiqueta Negra, an award-winning monthly magazine based in Lima. A former Fulbright scholar to Peru and the recipient of a Whiting Award for 2004, he is the distinguished visiting writer at Mills College.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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;