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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 17, 2012

Novel conceived at the UI begins week of Writing University streams

Sara Levine's Treasure Island!!!, which she conceived while teaching nonfiction writing at the University of Iowa, will open a week of live literary streams on the UI website.

The events, originating at 7 p.m. in Prairie Lights Books will be:

--Levine on Monday, Jan. 23.
--Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole reading from Sacred Trash on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
--Roger Rosenblatt reading from the memoir Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief and Small Boats on Friday, Jan. 27.

Levine, who is now the chair of the graduate writing program at the Art Institute of Chicago, told the Northwest Times in Indiana, "I was teaching nonfiction at the University of Iowa and a colleague asked me which essayists I liked, and I mentioned Robert Louis Stevenson. I was thinking of Stevenson's essays but he said 'Oh, Treasure Island.'" She began writing an essay on the novel, but became captivated by the swashbuckling style and created a protagonist who gets everything -- including Stevenson -- wrong.

In Treasure Island!!! a college graduate with a history of hapless jobs reads Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island and is dumbstruck by the timid design of her life. Convinced that Stevenson's book is cosmically intended for her, she redesigns her life according to its core values: boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing.

A critique in the New York Times Book Review called Levine "a wonderful storyteller with a vibrant voice. Treasure Island!!! is a rollicking tale, shameless, funny and intelligent."

Levine's stories have appeared in the Iowa Review, Nerve, Necessary Fiction, the Sonora Review, and other magazines. She won a 2008 Bridport Prize for Fiction, and her writing has been anthologized in Best of Fence: The First Nine Years and The Touchstone Anthology of Creative Nonfiction.

The Hoffman and Cole book -- winner in the 2011 National Jewish Book Awards -- traces the retrieval from an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out texts, of one of the most vital caches of Jewish manuscripts ever discovered. Presenting a panoramic view of 900 years of Mediterranean Judaism, they delve into a trove that has been dubbed "the living sea scrolls."

Of Sacred Trash, Cynthia Ozick wrote: "No longer can we speak of the seven wonders of the world —- in this astounding and acutely relevant tale, Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole have uncovered a remarkable eighth; and in its connection to our humanity, it surpasses all the rest."

Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood and My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century. Cole's most recent book of poems is Things on Which I've Stumbled. He is an award-winning translator and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.

Rosenblatt's book refracts his response to the death of his 38-year-old daughter into a meditation on the universal experience of loss.

Rosenblatt is the author of the New York Times bestseller Making Toast. His essays for Time and the NewsHour on PBS have won two George Polk Awards, a Peabody Award and an Emmy. His Time cover essay, A Letter to the Year 2086, was chosen for the time capsule placed inside the Statue of Liberty at its centennial.

He is the author of 14 books, which include the national bestseller Rules for Aging; three collections of essays; and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Unless it Moves the Human Heart, on the art of writing. His first novel, Lapham Rising was also a national bestseller.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,