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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 27, 2008

UI alumnus Josh Barkan reads for WSUI's 'Live from Prairie Lights' Sept. 11

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Josh Barkan will read from his new novel, "Blind Speed," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site

The event will be recorded for broadcast on Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series. Hourlong "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.

In "Blind Speed" former drummer-with-writer's-block/community college instructor Paul Berger gets some disturbing news during a palm reading and starts to question whether his slow disaster of a life can possibly be his fault.

The prophecies revealed by a savvy guru at a health retreat in Iowa are coming true. His fiancée, a former soap opera actress, is about to leave him and is shot at a historic reenactment of the Revolutionary War in Concord. His astronaut brother dies on Sept. 11 in the Pentagon. And his most famous brother is about to kidnap him, in a media campaign, to win an election.

But is Paul's life really controlled by fate? Or is the prophecy a lie he has latched onto ever since he was almost famous, when his band went under? And what is he going to do to fight back against the lies and misfortune of the culture surrounding him?

Martin J. Sherwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "American Prometheus," wrote, "'Blind Speed' is a rip-roaring read that will propel you to the next page until you laugh your way across the finish line. Rarely does a novel manage to capture so many facets of the culture at large -- from political campaigns to rock bands to a fortune-teller in Iowa who creates chaos. This is a brilliant novel of ideas, as American as Kerouac careening along an interstate highway."

Barkan was awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006. He taught writing at Harvard University, New York University and Boston University, and he is the author of the story collection "Before Hiroshima."

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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: Jan Weismiller, Prairie Lights,, 319-337-2681; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,