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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 10, 2011

UI Writers' Workshop alumnus/faculty member Orner returns Nov. 16

Peter Orner, an alumnus and former visiting faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will return for a free reading, streamed on the Writing University website,, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Prairie Lights Books.

Other Prairie Lights events streamed by the Writing University that week are:

--Caldecott Award-winning children's book author and illustrator Peter Sís at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14.
--"Paul's Book Club," discussing Joseph Skibell's A Blessing on the Moon with Paul Ingram at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15.
--UI alumnus Scott Cawelti will read from Brother's Blood, a true crime book about a murder in Cedar Falls, at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

Sís will read from his first book for adults, The Conference of the Birds, an adaptation of a classic 12th-century Sufi epic poem about an epic flight of birds in search of the true king, Simorgh.

MacArthur "genius grant" winner Sís is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. His film work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He was the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner for The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman.

With more than 20 books to his credit and almost as many honors, Sís is a six-time winner of the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and his Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei was a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book.

"Paul's Book Club" will discuss Skibell's magical tale about the Holocaust that inspired by nationwide acclaim when it was first published in 1997.

Orner will read from his new novel, Love and Shame and Love, which a starred review in the Library Journal described as a "briskly episodic novel about a brash city on a Great Lake, and a family navigating the rough waters of ambition and disappointment, pain and sorrow. Peter Orner achieves a remarkable mix of psychological nuance, imaginative storytelling, and historical verisimilitude as he leapfrogs through four decades."

Orner is the author of two highly acclaimed books of fiction, Esther Stories and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo. He is also the editor of two books of nonfiction, Underground America and Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives. A 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, he currently teaches at San Francisco State University.

Cawelti's book from the local Ice Cube Press, subtitled A Heartland Cain and Abel, examines the murders of the Mark family in the 1970s, for which Jerry Mark was convicted in 1976 and remains in prison.

Robert Gish, author of West Bound: Stories of Providence, wrote, "Those familiar with Truman Capote's In Cold Blood will find Cawelti's handling of fact and fiction masterful and will conclude Capote has nothing on Cawelti." And Thomas Wolf, co-author of Midnight Assassin, called the book "absorbing, tense, and disturbing. Scott Cawelti s well-researched and taut narrative will keep readers turning the pages."

Cawelti, who knew Jerry Mark in high school, holds a doctorate from the UI, was on the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, and has published two writing textbooks.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate College.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weissmiller, Winston Barclay, University News Services,