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University of Iowa News Release


June 15, 2007

Askew To Read From 'Harpsong' At June 28 'Live From Prairie Lights'

Novelist Rilla Askew will read from "Harpsong," her latest work of fiction, in a free event at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa 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.

Askew, author of "Mercy Seat" and "Fire in Beulah," set her new novel in her native Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

Molly Giles, author of "Iron Shoes," wrote: "Part folk ballad, part jazz riff, part sad-woman blues, this story of a wounded outlaw and the young girl who loves him is as musical as anything I've read since Michael Ondaatje's 'Coming Through Slaughter.'"

A preview in Publishers Weekly observed, "Askew's command of language is a pleasure to behold, bringing out the pain and wonder of her story with a bittersweet immediacy."

Askew's short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, and her story "The Killing Blanket" was selected for "Prize Stories 1993: The O. Henry Awards." Her collection of stories "Strange Business" received the Oklahoma Book Award in 1993.

Askew's first novel, "The Mercy Seat," was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and received the Oklahoma Book Award and the Western Heritage Award in 1998. Her novel "Fire in Beulah" received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and the Myers Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

Read more about Askew at

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 additional information about the reading call Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681. 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;