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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 30, 2011

UI Writing University streams readings six evenings in a row, Sept. 12-16

The University of Iowa's Writing University, will stream six straight evenings of readings, Sept. 12-16, covering free events originating at 7 p.m. in Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

--Novelist Ellen Baker will read from "I Gave My Heart to Know This" on Monday, Sept. 12.
--Australian writer Cate Kennedy will read from her new novel, "The World Beneath," on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
--Fiction and screenwriter Tom Perrotta will read from "The Leftovers," his new novel, on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
--Translator Philip Mosley will read from his Griffin Poetry Prize-nominated "The Book of the Snow" by Francois Jacqmin on Thursday, Sept. 15.
--Poet Kiwao Nomura will be joined by co-translator Kyoko Yoshida, a veteran of the UI International Writing Program (IWP), in a reading from "Spectacle & Pigsty" at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.

Baker, winner of the 2008 Great Lakes Book Award, said, "'I Gave My Heart to Know This' is the story of three women who work as welders at a shipyard during World War II and the tragedy that binds them, even as it divides them. Years later, a great-granddaughter, caring for the family home, pieces together the friends' long-buried secrets, and learns the difficulties -- and the possibilities -- of forgiveness."

Author Elizabeth Berg said, "Baker gives us characters who are so real, so recognizable, so likable, in spite of (or perhaps because of) their problems and secrets and frustrations and missteps, and she presents them against a story line that is epic in scope."

"The World Beneath" won the People's Choice Award in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards in 2010. A starred review in Booklist, "Rich and Sandy endlessly relive the high point of their lives when they were part of a successful environmental protest movement some 25 years ago. But things have not gone well for them since. Rich left the marriage after the birth of their daughter and has been on the run ever since, finally acknowledging that the decades have gone by with not much to show for them. Hapless Sandy has struggled to make a living fashioning handmade jewelry and attempting to sell it at crafts fairs. Their teenage daughter, Sophie, has morphed from a happy toddler into a sullen goth with a serious eating disorder.

"Then Rich proposes that he and Sophie take a wilderness hike in Tasmania as a way of reconnecting. While Sandy spends the week at a retreat attempting to get in touch with her inner goddess, Rich and Sophie find themselves in the outback severely unprepared for the arduous climb and inclement weather. In elegant, fluidly written prose, Kennedy not only delivers scathing portraits of the ineffectual adults and the times that shaped them but also makes the epic wilderness another vividly rendered character in the story."

Kennedy's collection, "Dark Roots," was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. She is also the author of the travel memoir "Sing, and Don't Cry," and the poetry collections "Joyflight," "Signs of Other Fires" and The Taste of River Water."

In "The Leftovers," Perrotta examines what might happen if, as in the Rapture, millions of people simply disappeared. Critic Chris Schluep wrote, Perrotta is a master at exposing the quiet desperation behind America's suburban sheen. In "The Leftovers," he explores what would happen if the Rapture actually took place and millions of people just disappeared from the earth. How would normal people respond?

"Perrotta's characters show a variety of coping techniques, including indifference, avoidance, depression, freaking out and the joining of cults. Despite the exceptional circumstances, it's really not unlike how people respond to more minor incidents in their lives (excepting cults). … In vivid and occasionally satiric prose, he takes a bizarre and abnormal event -- the Rapture -- and imagines how normal people would deal with being left behind."

Perrotta is best known for his novels "Election" and "Little Children," both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated films.

Mosley is a faculty member in English and comparative literature at Penn State University. His translation from French was one of 450 books from 37 countries submitted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, Canada's most prestigious poetry award.

Nomura's collection of Japanese poetry, co-translated by Yoshida and Forrest Gander, makes unpredictable leaps of association to explore themes such as sex, loss and memory. A Publishers Weekly review observed, "Nomura commands headlines, and headlines festivals, in his native country for poems that —- on the evidence here —- succeed through astonishment, shock and disorder, almost in the manner of Kathy Acker or William S. Burroughs."

Yoshida was a resident in the IWP in 2005. In addition to her translations, she writes short stories that have been published in numerous American literary journals.

His other translations of Belgian francophone authors include "Bruges-la-Morte" by Georges Rodenbach; "The Intelligence of Flowers," along with a related piece, "Scents," by Maurice Maeterlinck; "October Long Sunday" by Guy Vaes; and "Tea Masters, Teahouses" by Werner Lambersy. In 2008 he was awarded the Prix de la Traduction Littéraire by the French Community of Belgium.

He is also known locally for his work as editor of "Anthracite! An Anthology of Pennsylvania Coal Region Plays," a collection of six plays about the coal mining industry and the injustices and hardships of regional mining life.

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