May 10, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa Associate Professor of Journalism David O. Dowling will read from his new book Surviving the Essex: The Afterlife of America’s Most Storied Shipwreck. Surviving the Essex chronicles the captivating story of a ship’s crew battered by a whale attack and forced to survive four months at sea by any means necessary. Dowling probes deep into the nature of trauma and survival accounts as well as the impact this story had on Herman Melville and the writing of Moby-Dick.

    Dowling has written numerous books on the intersection of business and literature, including Emerson’s Protégés and Literary Partnerships and the Marketplace.

    “With glistening prose and a detective’s eye for detail and acts of deception, David Dowling investigates one of the most famous and harrowing events in maritime history. By carefully dissecting contending narratives of the sinking of the Essex, Dowling illuminates issues diverse and fascinating: cannibalism, ghostwriting, the literary marketplace, reputations, and even the culpability of the whale in sinking the ship.”—George Cotkin


    May 9, 2016 - 6:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join Prairie Lights and Director of the Undergraduate Nonfiction Writing Program Bonnie Sunstein in celebrating the semi-annual Writers Gone Public reading. The event from 6:30 to 8:30 pm will feature current undergraduate students who study with MFA Nonfiction faculty, reading excerpts from essays they have written this semester.


    May 7, 2016 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local artist Jennifer Black Reinhardt will present Yaks Yak, a delightful new book she has illustrated, by Linda Sue Park.  Learn about the art of illustration as she shares a powerpoint presentation of her illustrative process. In this funny and informative new children’s book,  Reinhardt’s illustrations depict an entertaining survey of animals whose names are also verbs in scenes where yaks yak, slugs slug, rams ram, and crows crow.

    Jennifer Black Reinhardt  received a degree in Illustration from Carnegie Mellon University. She has worked in advertising, and has had her artwork featured on calendars, humor books, needlepoint kits, collector plates, and a Louie Award winning line of greeting cards.  She is the illustrator of several books for children including The Inventor’s Secret; What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford  by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig written by Chris Kurtz.

    She lives in Iowa City with her family and a big, white poodle.


    May 6, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Alexander Chee will read from his novel, The Queen of the Night,  a mesmerizing novel that follows one woman’s rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned diva.

    Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

    Chee is a contributing editor at The New Republic, and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, Guernica, NPR and Out, among others. He is winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship. He lives in New York City, where he curates the Dear Reader series at Ace Hotel New York.

    "If Lilliet Berne were a man, she might have been what 19th-century novels would call a swashbuckler: the kind of destiny-courting, death-defying character who finds intrigue and peril (and somehow, always, a fantastic pair of pantaloons) around every corner Paris glittering swirl of artists, aristocrats, and underworld habitues lives vividly in [Alexander Chee's] descriptions; no gaslit chateau or jet-beaded evening dress goes unnoted or unadmired. " —Entertainment Weekly


    May 5, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Tony Tulathimutte will read from Private Citizens, called by New York Magazine "the first great millennial novel." Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads, this is the story of four whip-smart friends torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it, and who—though estranged—stagger through the Bay Area, always washing up in each other's lives. Tony Tulathimutte has written for VICE, AGNI, The Threepenny Review, Salon, The New Yorker online, and other publications. He has received an O. Henry Award and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He lives in New York.

    This special event will be moderated by  Writers' Workshop graduate Liz Weiss.



    May 4, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Walter Benjamin (1892 -1940) was a German philosopher and cultural critic and one of the most important theorists of the twentieth century. These 73 poems, written to mourn his friend Fritz Heinle, constitute an important though little-known part of Benjamin's literary achievement and a unique contribution to the history of the German sonnet. 

    Please join us with the translator of these previously unpublished poems, Carl Skoggard, to hear them read in English and German. Iowa City musician and writer Liv Carrow will read the sonnets in their original language. This is Skoggard’s third translation of Benjamin’s books.

    There will be a discussion of this work, to better understand its proper context in the life and career of Benjamin, as well as the Weimar period and modern poetry.


    May 3, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Vi Khi Nao will read from her new book of poetry The Old Philosopher, winner of the 2014 Nightboat Books Poetry Prize. The Old Philosopher is enigmatic, sexual, biblical, anachronistic, political, and personal all at once. Vi Khi Nao brings biblical time and political time together in the same poetic space, allowing current affairs to converse with a more ancient and historical reality.

    Vi Khi Nao holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University, where she received the John Hawkes and Feldman Prizes in fiction and the Kim Ann Arstark Memorial Award in poetry. Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her manuscript, A Brief Alphabet of Torture, won the 2016 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest. In Fall 2016, Coffee House Press will publish her novel Fish in Exile. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.


    May 2, 2016 - 6:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Free Speech on College Campuses is a public forum hosted by IowaWatch. It will be led by 4–5 panelists who will moderate the discussion concerning free speech (Panelists TBD). The event will be held from 6:30–8 p.m. at Prairie Lights Books & Café. Guests are invited to stay for light refreshments.


    April 30, 2016 - 10:00am

    Prairie Lights

    We hope you'll come in this Saturday to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with us! Some special items that we'll have to help mark the day include: an exclusive, limited edition Neil Gaiman coloring book with art by Chris Riddell, X Is For . . . Vinyl, a companion record to Rad American Women A-Z,  a special signed edition of the new novel Raymie Nightingale by two-time Newbery Award winner Kate DiCamillo, Read with Me Curious George plush toy, A $6 Story: The Care & Feeding of an Independent Bookstore by Ann Patchett, and fun souvenir items like a canvas zippered pouch for cat lovers, literary tea towels and more!


    April 29, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for a reading in Spanish by graduating students in the Spanish Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Iowa.