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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 4, 2007

Abani and Meno share Sept. 12 'Live from Prairie Lights' reading

Nigerian fiction writer Chris Abani and American fiction writer and playwright Joe Meno (photo, left) will share a "Live from Prairie Lights" reading at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the Writing University Web site at

The 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.

Meno, author of the 2004 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year, "Hairstyles of the Damned," will read from "Tender as Hellfire," and Abani will read from "Song for Night."

"Song for Night" received a starred review in Publishers Weekly: "In his latest novella, Abani renders the inner voice of mute 15-year-old My Luck, the boy leader of a platoon of mine sweepers in an unnamed war-torn African country. When he was 12, the then volunteer rebel had his vocal cords severed (the rest of his team received the same treatment), so that we wouldn't scare each other with our death screams. . . . Abani finds in his narrator a seed of hope amid the bleak, nihilistic terrain."

Abani's other books include "Graceland," a 2005 "Today Show" pick; "Hands Washing Water"; and "Becoming Abigail."

A Kirkus Review critique of Meno's book stated, "Any number of novels have been written about unhappy childhoods and bizarre families, but this one surpasses many at least on the weirdo scale."

Meno's other work includes "The Boy Detective Fails," "How the Hula Girl Sings" and "Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir." The winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, Meno teaches creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago.

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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, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,