CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 24, 2002
UI Alum Ford And UI Award-Winner Valeri Will Read At Prairie Lights
Poet Katie Ford, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' workshop,
and fiction writer Laura Valeri, winner of the John Simmons Award for Short
Fiction from the UI Press, will present free readings on the "Live from
Prairie Lights" series during the week of Nov. 4-8. All the week's readings
will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series hosted
by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. The readings can be heard
on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.
The week's schedule is:
-- Indo-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry, reading from his latest novel, "Family
Matters," at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the Prairie Lights bookstore
at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City;
-- Katie Ford reading from her first poetry collection, "Deposition,"
on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Prairie Lights;
-- Rick Ryan, reading from his debut novel, "The Golden Rules,"
at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in Prairie Lights; and
-- Laura Valeri, reading from the UI Press volume "The Kind of Things
Saints Do," at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, in Prairie Lights.
Eugenides' first novel, "The Virgin Suicides," was published to
great acclaim in 1993. Of his new novel, Joanne Wilkinson wrote for Booklist
that Eugenides "once again proves himself to be a wildly imaginative
writer, this time penning a coming-of-age tale, ranging from the 1920s in
Asia Minor to the present in Berlin, about a hermaphrodite. Perhaps what is
most surprising about Eugenides' offbeat but engrossing book is how he establishes,
seemingly effortlessly, the credibility of his narrator. . . With a sure yet
light-handed touch, Eugenides skillfully bends our notions of gender."
Ford grew up in Oregon and before she came to the UI she attended Whitman
College and Harvard University, where she studied theology and poetry and
received a master of divinity. Former UI Writers' Workshop faculty member
Jorie Graham wrote of Ford's debut collection, "Rarely is poetry of such
extremity -- extremity of experience, extremity of spiritual practice and
insight -- presented."
Mistry's "A Fine Balance" was chosen by Oprah for her book club,
instantly putting him on the literary map. Critic Donna Seaman wrote, "Mistry's
flawless style and absolute yet inconspicuous command of character, place,
and story made prizewinners of his previous novels, including 'A Fine Balance.'
He now presents a magnetic tale of family obligations that comes as close
to perfect as a novel can get. The setting is the ever-hectic city of Bombay
during a 1990s wave of violent religious extremism, and the focus is on an
extended Parsi family suffering the long-term consequences of a Juliet and
Romeo-like tragedy. . . . Mistry evokes laughter and tears as he spins the
great wheel of human life and charts the soul's confusion and the body's decline,
the endless cycle of repeated mistakes and failures of heart, and, yes, the
radiant revelations of love."
In "The Golden Rules" Ryan's protagonist is a mediocre actor who
is launched into over-the-top adventures when he answers a newspaper ad. A
Publishers Weekly preview noted that "Ryan creates a tapestry of exotic,
whimsical characters," and C.J. Hribal, author of "American Beauty,"
called the book "a romp, a page-turning adventure story, an R-rated Treasure
The John Simmons Award is a national literary competition juried by the UI
Writers' Workshop, where Valeri earned her Master of Fine Arts degree. Joanne
Wilkenson wrote that Valeri, "rips through these pages with a fearless
display of raw emotion. Whether she is writing from the point of view of a
self-mutilating 17-year-old girl or a peripatetic twenty-something male, her
stories are filled with urgency and pain."
Dan Wakefield, author of "New York in the Fifties," wrote, "In
a debut short story collection, Laura Valeri shows herself to be a masterful
writer, in command of a variety of cultures, stages of life, genders, and
experiences. Whether writing about a troubled teenage girl or a son trying
to make peace with his father, Valeri writes with lyric skill and dramatic
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