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University of Iowa News Release


March 14, 2008

Tobias Wolff, a guest of the UI Writers' Workshop, reads March 27

Short-story writer and memoirist Tobias Wolff, a guest of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in Lecture Room 2 of UI Van Allen Hall. The reading is free and open to the public.

Described as a writer of dazzling emotional range and absolute authority, Wolff is one of the nation's preeminent fiction writers. His "Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories" -- featuring 10 new stories as well as several of his recognized classics of the genre -- will become available March 25.

Wolff, who also has worked as an editor and journalist, is known particularly as a master of the short-story form as well as for his memoirs. "This Boy's Life" describes his turbulent childhood, and the National Book Award nominee "In Pharaoh's Army" is an account of his tour of duty as an officer in the Vietnam War.

His most recent novel is "Old School," published in 2003, a book that a Publishers Weekly review described as "a delicate, pointed meditation on the treacherous charms of art." Critic Keir Graff wrote for Booklist, "His storytelling is economical, his prose is elegant, and his meditations are utterly timeless. Some readers may wish to turn from the last page to the first and begin again."

Tim O'Brien said of Wolff's collection "Back in the World": "Tobias Wolff is dynamic. In his spare, cool, lucid prose, without gimmicks or artifice, he tells terrific stories. Terrific, I mean, in the classic sense -- he isn't afraid of drama. ... The magic of his fiction cannot be explained. It is the ancient art of the master storyteller."

The late Raymond Carver, a UI alumnus and former faculty member, called Wolff's collection "In the Garden of the North American Martyrs" "The work of a young master. . . . I have not read a book of stories in years that has given me such a shock of amazement and recognition -- and such pleasure."

A New York Times review commended Wolff for his "boundless tolerance for the stupid sorrow of ordinary human entanglements and his command of eloquent detail."

Wolff's work is represented in more than 50 anthologies. His short stories have appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Antaeus and many other publications. He received the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novella "The Barracks Thief," the Rea Award, three O. Henry Awards and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He also is the recipient of awards and fellowships that include a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Foundation Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award and a Wallace Stegner fellowship.

His memoir "This Boy's Life" was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro, Ellen Barkin and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Wolff has been the editor of "The Vintage Book of American Short Stories," "Best American Short Stories," "Matters of Life and Death: New American Stories," "The Picador Book of Contemporary American Stories," "A Doctor's Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov" and "The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories."

He teaches at Stanford University.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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