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Release: March 29, 2007

Nonfiction Writing Program Director Robin Hemley Reads April 11

Robin Hemley, director of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, will read from "Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday," recently re-released in paperback, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live on the Writing University Website at http://writinguniversity.uiowa.edu.

The free reading will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series originating on University of Iowa radio station WSUI-AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City, WOI-AM 640 in Ames and KRNI-AM 1010 in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI in Iowa City.

A review of "Invented Eden" in Scientific American explained, "'Elusive' and 'disputed' are certainly the words to describe the history of the Tasaday, a group of about two dozen people discovered in 1971 living in an apparently primitive way in a remote Philippine jungle. The 'lost tribe' was for a while an international sensation.

"In 1986, however, a Swiss reporter wrote that several Tasaday had told him that they had been coerced into pretending to be cavemen and were in fact farmers from a neighboring tribe. Hemley has dug deeply into the Tasaday story. His conclusion: 'The Tasaday were pseudo-archaics in Claude Lévi-Strauss's terminology, a small group that had fled into the forest to escape an epidemic of some sort. By 1986 they had become what anthropologist Richard Fox calls professional primitives.'"

Donna Seaman wrote for Booklist, "Hemley, a thoughtful novelist and memoirist, painstakingly unravels a dense snarl of romantic notions, political agendas, scientific rivalries, thorny personalities, and rampant misperceptions to disclose a far stranger tale. After enduring exhausting journeys, untrustworthy translations of suspect conversations, and confrontations with armed men and distressed women, and after discovering evidence of bribes, conspiracies, intimidation, betrayals, and 'grotesque' ironies, Hemley wryly asserts, 'We can be manipulated by our own expectations as much as by the machinations of others.'"

"Invented Eden" was American Library Association Editor's Choice book for 2003.

Hemley, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is also the author of "Turning Life Into Fiction," "Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art and Madness," the novel "The Last Studebaker," and the short-story collections "All You Can Eat" and "The Big Ear." He co-edited the anthology "Extreme Fiction: Fabulists and Formalists," and one of his stories was recently anthologized in "20 Over 40."

His awards for his fiction include, The Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune, the George Garrett Award for Fiction from Willow Springs, the Hugh J. Luke Award from Prairie Schooner and two Pushcart Prizes.

Hemley's work has been published in literary magazines including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Willow Springs, Boulevard, Witness, ACM and the North American Review. His fiction has been widely anthologized and translated, and has been heard on National Public Radio's "Selected Shorts."

He has taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Western Washington University, St. Lawrence University, Vermont College and the University of Utah, and he was the editor-in-chief of the Bellingham Review for five years.

The Nonfiction Writing Program and the Writers' Workshop are graduate programs in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013; winston-barclay@uiowa.edu