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Release: June 7, 2002

Offutt and Hall will read at Prairie Lights

The early-summer schedule of free “Live at Prairie Lights” readings includes University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty member Chris Offutt on Friday, June 14, and workshop alumna Sands Hall on Thursday, June 20. The 8 p.m. readings in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City will be broadcast live on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the internet at < http://wsui.uiowa.edu >.

Offutt will read from his widely reviewed new book, “No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home,” and Hall, a teacher in the UI Summer Writing Festival, will read from her novel “Catching Heaven.”

Offutt’s book explores the meaning of “home,” through his experience of returning to his native ground in Appalachia and the accounts of his in-laws, who were Holocaust survivors.

Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times, “Offutt is a wonderful raconteur, sharp-eyed and self-effacingly funny even as he appreciates the essential mournfulness of his experience. In this slender, captivating book, he captures the full arc of his homecoming adventure.” Read the full review at: <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/21/books/21MASL.html?ex=1018331963&ei=1&en=b3bafb8e41e753fb >.

For the Seattle Times, Irene Wanner wrote, “Offutt’s affection for the land and people -- this new book is dedicated to his first-grade teacher -- has earned him praise as an author who knows first-hand about ‘hillbilly’ life, yet treats the subject and, particularly, the spoken dialect, with great care and skill. . . his gift to readers is substantial.” The full review may be accessed on the web at: <http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgibin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=heroes07&date=20020407 >.

Offutt’s work includes the earlier memoir “The Same River Twice,” the short-story collections “Kentucky Straight” and “Out of the Woods,” and the novel “The Good Brother.”

Hall is not only a fiction writer, but also a teacher, playwright and actress. She has been a featured cast member in the UI professional theater company, Iowa Summer Rep, and hold the Master of Fine Arts degree from the UI Department of Theatre Arts. In addition to “Catching Heaven,” a Ballantine Reader's Circle Selection, her work includes the play “Fair Use” and stage adaptations of “Little Women” and Pulitzer-winning UI alum Wallace Stegner’s “Angle of Repose.”

Amy Tan wrote, “Sands Hall’s first novel, ‘Catching Heaven,’ is rich, warm, and utterly satisfying. It speaks to choices and mistakes that connect and separate us, as well as the human will to repair itself. This is a wonderful debut from a first-rate storyteller.”

A critique in the New York Times Book Review observed that the book, “Deftly reveals the push and pull between two sisters who love each other dearly, but who face new tensions when their lives collide in midcourse.” And Karen Joy Fowler called “Catching Heaven,” “a book that contains some of the realest fictional people you'll ever meet.”

Hall has taught in the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the University of California, Davis, Extension Programs, and she writes, acts and directs as an affiliate artist of the Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City, Cal.

For UI arts information, visit < www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa > on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.