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University of Iowa News Release

May 9, 2003

UI Writers' Workshop Alumna Ann Packer Reads On WSUI May 21

"Live from Prairie Lights," the series of broadcast readings hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will feature:
-- Japanese-American novelist Gayle Tsukiyama at 8 p.m. Monday, May 19;
-- Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Ann Packer at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 21; and
-- Joel Turnipseed, reading from his memoir of the Gulf War, at 8 p.m. Friday, May 23.

All the readings will be free events in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen to the readings on the internet at http://wsui.uiowa.edu.

Tsukiyama, the California-based author of "Women of the Silk," "The Language of Threads," "Night of Many Dreams" and "The Samurai's Garden," will read from her latest novel, "Dreaming Water."

Critic Michael Chabon wrote, "Gail Tsukiyama is a writer of astonishing grace, delicacy and feeling. Her lyric precision serves not only to leave the reader breathless, but to illuminate human suffering and redemption with clarity and power."

Ellen R. Cohen commented in the Library Journal, "Tsukiyama's fifth novel details a short span in the life of Cate and Hana, a mother and daughter coping with the onslaught of Werner's Syndrome. This syndrome, which ages a person abnormally, makes Hana look and feel 80 rather than 38. Yet she yearns for all the good things that life will never bring her, and Cate, recovering from the sudden death of her husband, cares lovingly for Hana. . . . Tsukiyama writes beautifully about courage and love, showing us the importance of daily kindnesses and highlighting the beauty found in the relationships among mothers, daughters and friends. "

Ann Packer, who was a James Michener Fellowship winner at the UI, will read from "The Dive from Clausen's Pier," one of last year's most highly acclaimed novels, just released in paperback.

A critique in the New York Times Book review concluded, "Packer knows just how to make a story build: the novel reveals a sure sense of pace and pitch, a brilliant ear for character . . . a searching emotional generosity." And the critic of the Boston Globe called the book, "Intricately detailed, deeply felt, compelling and utterly surprising. . . . Wonderfully satisfying."

Packer, who received the Great Lakes Book Award for the best-selling "The Dive from Clausen's Pier," is also the author of "Mendocino and Other Stories." She has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and other magazines, and was anthologized in "Prize Stories 1992: The O. Henry Awards."

"Bhagdad Express" is Joel Turnipseed's witty and disturbing first-person account of life in the Marines during the Gulf War.

Alec Wilkinson wrote, "His book is the best dispatch so far from the Middle East desert battleground." And William Kittredge called the book, ""An edgy, street-talking trip into the often inane realities of 'high-tech' contemporary warfare. Turnipseed gives us an invaluable tale of war as it is, reckless and semi-insane. Americans, in our perilous times, should be paying attention -- reading this book, this vivid story about getting to the far side of triumph."

Turnipseed has been a Bread Loaf Scholar, a writer-in-residence at the Loft in the Twin Cities, and a recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu.