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CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
e-mail: peter-alexander@uiowa.edu

Release: June 1, 2001

UI CAMPUS NOTES -- IOWA CENTER FOR THE ARTS

SEDARIS READS JUNE 11 -- Humorist David Sedaris will read from his new book, "Me Talk Pretty One Day," at 8 p.m. Monday, June 11 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading is part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM.

Sedaris is the author of the books "Barrel Fever," "Naked," and "Holidays on Ice," and he is a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s "This American Life." A New York Times review has recommended him as "a writer who is capable not only of being funny, but touching, even tender, too."

The new collection begins with a North Carolina childhood filled with speech-therapy classes and unwanted guitar lessons taught by a midget, and eventually moves to Paris despite the author’s inability to speak French.

A Publishers Weekly review of his new book of autobiographical stories stated "Sedaris is nothing if not nimble . . . he will exhaust readers of this new book, too -- with helpless laughter."

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LIU READS JUNE 12 -- Poet Timothy Liu will read from his new collection, "Hard Evidence," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 12 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading is part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM.

Poet Marilyn Hacker has described Liu as "a poet of eros in all its guises." One of the most celebrated poets of his generation, Liu is the writer of "Say Goodnight," a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; "Burnt Offerings"; and "Vox Angelica," which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.

He has also edited "Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry." His poems have been included in more than 20 anthologies, including this spring’s "Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America."

Liu’s poems have appeared in magazines and journals including the Antioch Review, the Denver Quarterly, Grand Street, Chelsea, the Kenyon Review, the New England Review, the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and TriQuarterly.

Born in 1965 in San Jose, Calif., to parents from the Chinese mainland, Liu studied at Brigham Young University, the University of Houston, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is now a faculty member at William Paterson University.

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POIRIER READS JUNE 13 -- Marc Jude Poirier, a recent graduate of the fiction program in the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will read from his debut novel, "Goats," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading is part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM.

"Goats," is the story of two committed adolescents -- one is Ellis, a fatherless Arizona teenager, and the other is the family’s 40-year-old pool man and gardener, whose habit of raising goats results in the nickname Goat Man.

When he’s not caring for his herd, Goat Man spends his off hours growing pot and getting high, and Ellis becomes his lifestyle apprentice before he must go off to school and adjust to the real world.

Critic Claire Dederer called the book a "charming and assured debut" and a review in the New Yorker describes it as "Swift moving" and "engaging."

The review in the Washington Post Book World found the book "surprisingly winning . . . ’Goats’ has a mellow, sidelong charm and an intelligence that sneaks up on you." And a recent piece in The New York Times Book Review described "Goats" as "Engaging and unusual . . . ‘Goats’ is a hard-edged, clear-eyed, coming-of-age novel shot through with unexpected flashes of tenderness."

An Esquire article dubbed Poirier " One of the most kinetic, most original young fiction writers we’ve read in a long time." He grew up in Tucson, received a Maytag fellowship at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was recently awarded a UI James A. Michener Fellowship.

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NISSEN, KLAM AND RICHLER READ JUNE 14-- Three acclaimed young fiction writers -- Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Thisbe Nissen, Matt Klam and Emma Richler -- will read from their work at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 14 in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading is part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM.

Nissen’s debut novel, "The Good People of New York," appeared in bookstores May 22; the paperback edition of Klam’s well-received short-story collection "Sam the Cat" is just out; and Richler’s "Sister Crazy" hit the store shelves in April.

A review of Nissen’s novel in Publishers Weekly stated, "Gracefully shifting her focus from short story to novel, Nissen -- John Simmons Short Fiction Award winner (‘Out of the Girls’ Room and into the Night’) --weaves a charming tale with candid humor and a sharp eye for detail. . . Astute characterizations and smart, snappy dialogue anchor an honest, funny portrayal of an inevitably heartbreaking but loving relationship."

Kristine Huntley wrote for Booklist, "Nissen’s genius lies in her ability to take ordinary people and skillfully reveal the quirks and emotions that make them utterly fascinating. . . . A phenomenal debut from a talented young writer."

And Elinor Lipman, the author of "The Ladies Man" said, "Let’s be honest: We readers slog through a lot of dispiriting novels in search of what ‘The Good People of New York’ delivers so beautifully -- fabulous characters that captivate, entertain, and transplant us from our own lives into theirs. I marveled at Thisbe Nissen’s talent, and I thank her for such a wonderfully satisfying book. These pages sing, and this is a voice I’d follow anywhere."

The New Yorker named Matt Klam one of the 20 best young writers in America, and a Los Angeles Times review called him "A riveting, honest and unvarnished voice that sounds like no one else’s."

The San Francisco Chronicle’s critic said "Sam the Cat" "Repeatedly nails the fragile braggadocio of the modern American male. . . Each story takes on a memorable life of its own, thanks to Klam’s . . . ability to find the perfect word or phrase," and a Publishers Weekly review concluded that Klam "seems to have tapped right into the heads of certain men, none of whom you want courting your daughter."

Richler’s debut novel addresses the impact of terminal illness on close family ties. Stephanie Zvirin wrote in Booklist that "Richler brings these characters brilliantly to life, at the same time telling a familiar story about lasting connections and finding one’s place in a strong, diverse family."

Elizabeth Strout, the author of "Amy and Isabelle" concludes, "Richler’s voice is true and intimate as she reveals a family of compelling characters in a way that is utterly unique. Moving deftly among the humorous and the serious, this quirky, forthright narrator takes us on an immensely readable ride."

Richler was born in London and grew up there and in Montreal. She studied French literature at the University of Toronto and the Universite de Provence before training as an actress at the Circle in the Square in New York City and working for 10 years in the United Kingdom in theater, film, and television drama, and on BBC radio.

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SAUNDERS READS JUNE 15 -- George Saunders will read from his new short-story collection, "Pastoralia: Stories," at 8 p.m. Friday, June 15, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading is part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" broadcast series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, 910 AM.

The stories in "Pastoralia" are set in an off-kilter version of America, where elements of contemporary life have been merged, twisted, and amplified to comic effect.

Calling the book "wickedly entertaining," a San Francisco Chronicle review declared, "‘Pastoralia’ is a Dilbert cartoon inked by Samuel Beckett."

Lynne Tillman wrote in the New York Times Book Review, "In his new collection, Saunders’s tales cover larger, more exciting territory, with an abundance of ideas, meanings and psychological nuance. Saunders can be brutally funny, and the better his stories are, the more melancholic, somber and subtle they are, too."

Saunders has been identified as a writer in the tradition of Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut. He was named by The New Yorker as one of the "20 Best American Fiction Writers Under 40," and his first collection of stories was hailed by the New York Times as "the debut of an exciting new voice in fiction."

Garrison Keillor has called him "wildly funny, pure, generous -- all that a great humorist should be," and Thomas Pynchon described him as "An astoundingly tuned voice -- graceful, dark, authentic, and funny."

"CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award and was a New York Times Notable Book for that year. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Story, have received two National Magazine Awards and appeared three times in the O Henry Awards collection.

Saunders teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.