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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 4, 2008

UI writers appear on numerous 2007 'best books' lists

Books by University of Iowa writers appeared on numerous 2007 "best books" lists, including the National Book Award-winning books by Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Denis Johnson and frequent visiting poetry faculty member Robert Hass.

The most influential "Top 10" list, from the New York Times Book Review, included not only Johnson's Vietnam novel "Tree of Smoke" but also "Then We Came to the End" by UI alumnus Joshua Ferris.

Johnson's novel and Hass' poetry collection "Time and Materials" were included on the Publishers Weekly best-of-the-year list.

In addition to the books by Hass, Ferris and Johnson, New York Times "notable books" for the year included "Bearing the Body" by Writers' Workshop alumnus Ehud Havazalet, ""Exit Ghost" by former workshop faculty member Philip Roth, "The Ministry of Special Causes" by workshop graduate Nathan Englander, "On Chesil Beach" by former workshop faculty member Ian McEwan, and "The Florist's Daughter" by workshop alumna Patricia Hampl, who is co-editor of the Iowa Nonfiction Series from the UI Press.

The novels by Johnson and McEwan were tapped by both the Washington Post and the Boston Globe; McEwan's book was honored by The Economist; Ferris and Johnson were winners of the Salon Book Awards and appeared on the list selected by the critics of Slate; and Entertainment Weekly selected the Ferris and McEwan novels.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch list included not only the books by Johnson, Roth and Ferris, but also "Run" by workshop alumna Ann Patchett; "The Mistress's Daughter" by workshop alumnus A.M. Homes; and new collections by workshop poets Matthea Harvey, Alice Notley, Carl Phillips and Mark Strand.

On the Library Journal's list, "Tree of Smoke" was joined by "Other Colors" by Nobel Prize-winning International Writing Program alumnus Orham Pamuk and "Heartsick" by one-time Daily Iowan columnist Chelsea Cain.

Kirkus Reviews selected "Love & War in California" by Oakley Hall, a Writers' Workshop graduate who was the long-time director of the writing program at the University of California-Irvine.

One of January Magazine's critics chose "The Great Man" by workshop alumna Kate Christensen as her favorite book of the year. And the Los Angeles Times list of critics' "favorite books" included Englander's volume as well as "Lost City Radio" by workshop alumnus Daniel Alarcon.

"A Sourcebook of Nasca Ceramic Iconography: Reading a Culture Through Its Art" by Donald Proulx, published by the UI Press, was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine.

For links to all the writing programs at the UI, visit the Writing University Web site at

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 CONTACTS: Julie Englander, WSUI, 319-445-5744,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),