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University of Iowa News Release


May 10, 2007

Former Writers' Workshop Faculty Member Crace Reads May 21

British novelist Jim Crace, a former faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from "The Pesthouse," his new dystopian novel, at 7 p.m. Monday, May 21, 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 WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City, WOI-AM 640 in Ames and KRNI-AM 1010 in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on KSUI-FM 91.7 in Iowa City.

In "The Pesthouse," Crace imagines an America destroyed by ecological disaster and plague. As recent Writers' Workshop faculty member Francine Prose explained in the New York Times Book Review, "The whole planet is a toxic dump site, and people have reverted to behaviors so basic that the writer can skip the cultural details and take us straight to the heart of what it means to be human ... .

"It's a tribute to Crace's skills that we so rapidly get our bearings in a radically altered landscape. It's the future, it's America, something cataclysmic has occurred. But it's hard to know just what, since history is among the things that have fallen by the wayside, along with literacy, modern science (pediatric medicine dictates strapping a pigeon to a sick child's feet until the illness enters the pigeon) and 20th-century notions of gender equality: 'That was how the duties of the world had been assigned. Crying for the women. Spitting for the men.' The social Darwinism of the early 21st century has been replaced by one that's considerably redder in tooth and claw."

And yet "The Pesthouse" is a love story -- between a man and a woman who must trek across a devastated and dangerous landscape, finding strength in each other.

Crace, who gave up a journalism career in 1974 to devote his time to creative writing, is the author of eight previous novels. "Being Dead" was shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Fiction Prize and won the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 2000. In 1997 "Quarantine" was named the Whitbread Novel of the Year and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

He has also received the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the E. M. Forster Award, the GAP International Prize for literature and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Crace was the founder and former director of the Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers.

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.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program of 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;