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Release: Sept. 7, 2001

UI Writers' Workshop graduate Terrell to read from first novel

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Whitney Terrell, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and former graduate assistant of UI Arts Center Relations, will return to Iowa City to read from his acclaimed first novel, "The Huntsman," at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.

In the mystery-genre opus of "The Huntsman," Terrell audaciously re-confronts America's inescapable issues -- race, privilege and justice -- in a Kansas City murder story.

A Publishers Weekly review summarizes: "The boundaries of racial and sexual propriety are crossed with a vengeance in Terrell's powerful, evocative debut novel, which tells the story of a young black ex-con named Booker Short who calls in a favor after getting out of prison and turns an entire town upside down in the process. When Short finishes doing time for his nebulous role in a dope-selling operation, Mercury Chapman, the white man who was his grandfather's commander in the service, sets Short up with a caretaker job in Kansas City.

"The young man's rise through the ranks of Kansas City society accelerates considerably when he begins a tumultuous affair with troubled, erratic Clarissa Sayers, a white judge's daughter whom he meets on the job. Their edgy union unnerves everyone they know, especially Clarissa's father, Thornton. But as most of the town knows, Thornton is on uncertain ground himself, his relationship with his daughter disturbingly close. When Clarissa turns up murdered, Short becomes the most likely suspect, but he goes underground until a final meeting between Chapman, Short and Sayers reveals the volatile wartime source of Chapman's old debt and exposes the explosive scandal in an ending that is both surprising and disturbing."

A starred critique in Kirkus Reviews described Terrell's book as " A masterful, surprising first novel, Faulknerian in its tone and structure, by a fine new storyteller." Russell Banks called the book, " downright wondrous . . . as powerfully told as any first novel I've read in a long time."

Terrell's experience ranges from undergraduate studies at Princeton University, reporting for the Kansas City Star (which described "The Huntsman" as " a debut novel that delves deep into issues that might make some folks squirm a bit -- but isn't that one of the key reasons literature exists?") and teaching at Rockhurst University, to commercial salmon fishing in Alaska and elk hunting in the Colorado Rockies.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.