January 19, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Emily Fridlund will read from History of Wolves, her beautiful and mysterious novel set in eerie 1970’s Minnesota lake country. The protagonist is a 14 year-old girl, product of a now defunct commune who lives with her inattentive hippie parents in a secluded rudimentary shack. Her worldview is muddled by memories of the commune, and her mostly solitary life opens up when a young couple moves in across the lake with a sickly child for her to babysit, and rumors of a teacher’s abuse cause her to reach out to a fellow student.

    Emily Fridlund  grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Five Chapters, New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, and The Portland Review. Fridlund’s collection of stories, Catapult, won the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande in 2017.

    “So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides!”—Aimee Bender


    January 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights


    “A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one . . . The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919 . . . Primarily this book is about daughter, Francie. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance
    of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." —New York Times

    This was a favorite book of mine, when I was in my early teens. I’ve read it twice since and the reading experience has not diminished in the least. American GI’s during WWII read the book and wept, dreaming of life in America. Selected as one of the Books of the Century by The New York City Public Library.


  • Holiday Reading

    December 19, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Tim Budd will read from a selection of stories, poems, and Christmas Classics.
    Join us for an hour of family entertainment.

  • The Iowa Youth Writing Project

    December 8, 2016 - 6:00pm

    Join us for our annual reading in support of The Iowa Youth Writing Project. 10% of today's sales will go to support the IYWP. Treat yourself to an exceptional literary experience while helping to bring the gift of writing to K-12 kids throughout the state.
    See what all the brilliant IYWP kiddos from Johnson & Linn Counties have been up to this semester, and enjoy snacks and camaraderie in the cafe after the reading provided by The Iowa Youth Writing Project!


    December 7, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Grinnell College associate professor Theresa Geller will talk about her new book,
    The X Files.

    With The X Files’ return to television as an "event series" in 2016, Geller offers a timely assessment of the show's cultural relevance and social significance. For nine seasons, The X Files broke new ground in complex narrative television by integrating science fiction and horror with the forensic investigation of the detective genre. Shaped by the conspiracy films of the 1970’s, the series had the ability to comment on the contemporary political climate one week and poke fun at its own self-seriousness the next. Fans of the show, as well as readers interested in cultural studies, genre criticism, race and ethnicity, fan studies, social commentary, and gender studies will be interested in this!

    Theresa L. Geller is associate professor of film theory and history at Grinnell College and was recently a Mellon research fellow at Yale University. She has contributed to several scholarly publications, including Camera Obscura, Spectator, Frontiers, Biography, Rhizomes, and Senses
    of Cinema.



    December 6, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Lucy Jane Bledsoe will read from her historical novel, A Thin Bright Line. Based on a true story, A Thin Bright Line “merges fact and fiction to create a historically accurate picture of the struggles faced by LGBT people in the 1950s and '60s; the closeting that was required for professional advancement; and the ways the Cold War pitted pure science against research to benefit the defense industry." (Kirkus Reviews)

    Bledsoe is the author of The Ice Cave: A Woman’s Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic, The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica, This Wild Silence, and Working Parts. She is a Pushcart nominee and has traveled to Antarctica three times, as a two-time recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers in Antarctica Fellowship and once as a guest on a Russian ship. A native of Portland, Oregon, she lives in Berkeley, California.

    “This is gripping historical fiction about queer life at the height of the Cold War and the civil rights movement, and its grounding in fact really makes it sing.” —Alison Bechdel


    November 29, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Jennifer Kronovet is the author of The Wug Test, which was selected by Eliza Griswold for the National Poetry Series by Ecco Press. In The Wug Test, named for a method by which a linguist discovered how deeply imprinted the cognitive instinct toward acquiring language is in children, Kronovet questions whether words are objects we should escape from or embrace. Dispatches of text from that researcher, Walt Whitman, Ferdinand de Saussure, and the poet herself, among other voices, are mined for their futility as well as their beauty, in poems that are technically revealing and purely pleasurable.

    Jennifer Kronovet is the author of the poetry collection Awayward and the chapbook Case Study: With. She co-translated The Acrobat, the selected poems of Celia Dropkin, and co-founded Circumference, the journal of poetry in translation. Under the name Jennifer Stern, she co-translated Empty Chairs, poems of Liu Xia. Kronovet received an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Applied Linguistics. She lives in Virginia and is a native New Yorker.



    November 18, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights



  • CIVIC LABORS: Panel Discussion on Engaged Scholarship and Activism

    November 17, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa professors John McKerley, Shel Stromquist, and Eric Fure-Slocum will read from Civic Labors: Scholar Activism and Working-Class Studies. The essays in this collection examine the challenges and opportunities for engaged scholarship in the United States and abroad. A diverse roster of contributors discuss how participation in current labor and social struggles guides their campus and community organizing, public history initiatives, teaching, mentoring, and other activities. “. . . in this one volume we find a true community of scholars who seek to understand and change the world.”—Michael Honey


    November 16, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Vi Khi Nao will read from her new novel from Coffee House Press, Fish in Exile. Viet Thanh Nguyen says, “Vi Khi Nao takes on a domestic story of losing one’s children and elevates it to Greek tragedy. Refusing sentimentality and realism, she shows how personal devastation can feel, to the sufferer, as powerful and enduring as myth.”

    Vi Khi Nao was born in Long Khanh, Vietnam. Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, was the winner of 2014 Nightboat Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University.