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University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2011

UI Press publishes 'AfterWord: Conjuring the Literary Dead' May 1

The University of Iowa Press will release "AfterWord: Conjuring the Literary Dead," an anthology of imagined conversations with deceased English-language writers, edited by Dale Salwak, on May 1.

If you could meet one deceased literary figure, who would that be? What would you ask? What would you say, and why? In "AfterWord: Conjuring the Literary Dead," 18 distinguished authors respond to this challenge by creating imagined conversations with a constellation of British and American authors, from Samuel Johnson to Jane Austen to Samuel Beckett to Edith Wharton.

Each chapter embarks on an intellectual, emotional and often humorous voyage as the layers of time are peeled away, letting readers experience authors as they really were in their own era or, on occasion, transported to the present. As eccentric as it is eclectic, this collection takes the audience on a dizzying descent into a literary Inferno where biographers, novelists and critics eat the food of the dead and return to tell the tale.

Covering 200 years of literary history, the essays in "AfterWord" draw upon the lifelong, consuming interest of the contributors, each fashioning a vivid portrait of a vulnerable, driven, fully human character.

As contributors appeal to what Margaret Atwood calls the deep human desire to "go to the land of the dead, to bring back to the living someone who has gone there," readers are privy to questions that have seldom been asked, to incidents that have been suppressed, to some of the secrets that have puzzled readers for years and to novel literary truths about the essential nature of each author.

In addition to Atwood, the many contributors include Brian Aldiss, Paul Delany, Margaret Drabble, Cynthia Ozick and Jay Parini, Authors conjured include Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound, A.E. Houseman, the Shelleys, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Robert Frost, William Faulkner and A.A. Milne.

Sean Latham, the author of "The Art of Scandal: Modernism, Libel Law and the Roman à Clef," wrote, "Leavening its gothic logos with a bit of fanciful mythos, this eccentric and compelling volume provides rich and often surprising reading. What else could one ask of a book that seeks congress with corpses?"

Salwak is a professor of English at southern California's Citrus College and a recipient of Purdue University's Distinguished Alumni Award, as well as a National Defense Education Act fellowship from the University of Southern California.

He is the author or editor of numerous books, including the UI Press volumes "The Wonders of Solitude, Anne Tyler as Novelist," "Philip Larkin: The Man and His Work," "The Teaching Life: Letters from a Life in Literature" and "The Life and Work of Barbara Pym."

"AfterWord" will be available at bookstores or directly from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or Customers in Europe, the Middle East or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Means, UI Press,; Winston Barclay, University News Services,