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University of Iowa News Release


March 6, 2009

UI Press releases cancer-survival memoir March 15

S. L. Wisenberg's memoir, "The Adventures of Cancer Bitch," will become available March 15, 2009, from the University of Iowa Press.

Cancer is Wisenberg's muse, and Cancer Bitch is her blog. Drawing on a wealth of personal, literary and historical sources -- from Jewish liturgy to the first crude mastectomies, from Anne Frank to Emma Goldman - "The Adventures of Cancer Bitch" depicts a politically engaged, self-aware (sometimes neurotic) woman facing a daunting disease with equal measures of humor, fear and intelligence.

Wisenberg lost a breast but retained her humor, outrage and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors' walk.

Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. During treatment she recorded the "dailyness" of life in Chicago as she rode the El, taught while one-breasted, and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder.

Audrey Niffenegger, the author of "The Time Traveler's Wife," wrote, "'The Adventures of Cancer Bitch' is witty and relentless, surprising and honest. Wisenberg has walked through the Valley of Cancer and she is willing to tell all; this is a cornucopia of breast cancer information as well as a very smart, funny read from an excellent writer."

Ruth Pennebaker, the author of "Both Sides Now," advised, "Forget the sappy little pink ribbons. When chemotherapy takes S. L. Wisenberg's hair, she turns her bald head into an antiwar billboard. Read 'The Adventures of Cancer Bitch' to meet a smart, funny, big-hearted woman who questions everything from her own mortality to career envy to why nobody thinks the particulars of hair loss are as fascinating a subject for extended dinner-party conversation as she does. Along the way, Wisenberg makes you proud to think that you, too, might possibly be a cancer bitch."

Wisenberg is the author of "The Sweetheart Is In" and "Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, and Other Obsessions." The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, the New England Review and the Michigan Quarterly Review have published her poetry and prose, and her work has been widely anthologized, most recently in "Rules of Thumb: 73 Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations," "Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction" and "Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology."

She is a co-director of Northwestern University's creative writing program as well as a visiting scholar in gender studies at Northwestern. She also teaches at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. Her blog, Cancer Bitch, can be read at

The book will be available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online 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: Allison Thomas, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,