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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 6, 2007

Rare Sunday reading kicks off busy week of Prairie Lights events Sept. 16-21

A rare Sunday reading featuring Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz will kick off a busy week of Prairie Lights readings, Sept. 16-21.

Diaz will read from his first novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the Writing University website at

Diaz's 6:30 p.m. reading will follow an International Writing Program/Writing University reading at 5 p.m., also in Prairie Lights bookstore.

The week's other readings, at the regular time of 7 p.m., are:

--84-year-old Iowan Mildred Armstrong Kalish, reading from "Little Heathens," her memoir about growing up during the Great Depression, on Monday, Sept. 17, in Shambaugh Auditorium.
--Marc Freedman, reading in Prairie Lights from "Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life" in a Tuesday, Sept. 18, event sponsored by the UI Center on Aging and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
--Poets Cathy Park Hong and Jenny Mueller, a UI Writers' Workshop alumna, reading from their new prize-winning collections on Thursday, Sept. 20, in Prairie Lights.
--UI Writers' Workshop alumnus Joshua Furst, a Michener Fellowship and Nelson Algren Award winner, reading from his debut novel, "The Sabotage Café," on Friday, Sept. 21, in Prairie Lights.

The events will be streamed on the Writing University site, and the Monday, Tuesday and Friday events will also be recorded for later 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.

Diaz drew the attention of the literary world with the short-story collection "Drown." Although set in New Jersey, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" is haunted by the brutality of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic.

Jim Harrison wrote of Kalish's memoir, "'Little Heathens' is an enchanting but thoroughly unsentimental look at rural life in the Great Depression. I cherish this book for its quiet, naked honesty and quiet lyricism about a time which makes our current problems nearly childish. This is a fine book." Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser added, "This lovely book, so unaffected and so generous, opens the door to a past I knew as a child in Iowa, and I wept with joy and recognition as I read it." Kalish, who grew up in Garrison, taught English at several colleges, including the UI.

Freedman is the founder and CEO of Civic Ventures. A former visiting fellow of King's College, University of London, a frequent commentator in the national media and the author of both "Prime Time" and "The Kindness of Strangers," Freedman spearheaded the creation of the Experience Corps and the Purpose Prize.

Fulbright-winner Hong's "Dance, Dance, Revolution" was published as the winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Mueller's "Bonneville" won the Editor's Prize in the Elixer Press Sixth Annual Poetry Awards.

Yiyun Li wrote of Furst's novel, "Sharp, insightful, vibrant with energy, 'The Sabotage Café' interweaves the 1980s Minneapolis punk scene and the lives of the younger generation today through a very unusual narrator, for whom history and personal fate converge under layers of dark secrets. Original and brilliant, this novel once again proves Joshua Furst to be one of the finest writers of fiction."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 310-430-1013 (cell),