• Rachel Greenwald Smith and Lisa Wells

    September 14, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading from Lisa Wells and Rachel Greenwald Smith to celebrate the releases of their books Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World and On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal. 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Lydia Millet of the Los Angeles Times says of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World, Believers . . . grapples with the question of how to go forward in the shadow of endings — not only our own, but the endings of species and ecosystems, of cultures and of language . . . The question is not of what we face but how we can face it bravely and creatively.”

    Publisher's Weekly says of On Comprimise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal, “Greenwald Smith takes a commendably expansive view of the idea and practice of compromise, creating a nuanced look at a thorny subject. The result is a work of criticism as thoughtful as it is relevant.”

    Lisa Wells is the author of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021) and The Fix , winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have been published by The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, The Believer, n+1 and others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she currently lives in south Seattle where she writes a column called Abundant Noise for Orion Magazine.

    Rachel Greenwald Smith is the author of Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism. Her essays have appeared in American Literature, the Account, Mediations, and elsewhere. She teaches at Saint Louis University

  • Alicia Dill in conversation with Sara Maniscalco Robinson

    September 7, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading from Alicia Dill in conversation with Sara Maniscalco Robinson  to celebrate the releases of her book Beyond Sacrifice 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    In Beyond Sacrifice, Concepcion Chapa—an Army veteran, FBI special agent, and the orphaned daughter of two CIA agents—has lived a life of sacrifice for her country. When she learns that her parents may not be dead, but just undercover, she allows herself to be recruited as a killer-for-hire for the CIA. Faking her death and undergoing surgery to change her looks, Concepcion leaves everything behind—her friends, family, and country. Under the identity of Sofia Paltrini, she travels the globe doing the dirty work of the US government. But in a world of subterfuge and hidden motives, no one is quite who they seem. Concepcion is left not knowing who to trust, and wondering if there’s a way to live a life for herself that’s beyond sacrifice.

    Alicia Dill is an Army veteran, a globally published journalist, public speaker, and award-winning author. Originally from Missouri, she joined the Iowa Army National Guard at the age of 17 and received a degree in journalism and international studies at the University of Iowa, and she also has a masters from the University of Dubuque. After her service, she was published by several weekly newspapers in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois, with over 75,000 readers. Her first book, Squared Away, was a 2020 International Next Generation Indie Book Award winner and a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award. Alicia is currently a participant in the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project, a year-long program. She lives in Cedar Rapids. 

    Sara Maniscalco Robinson is the founder of Iowa Veterans’ Perspective. With more than 20 years of service to the Iowa National Guard as a public affairs soldier and broadcast journalist, Sara has interviewed and shared the stories of countless military members. She has deployed twice, which gives her the right background to connect with different types of veterans. She has degrees in natural resource management and entomology, from Iowa State University, and is happy to still call Iowa her home.  

  • LaTanya McQueen in conversation with Rachel Yoder

    September 2, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with LaTanya McQueen  to celebrate the release of When the Reckoning ComesShe will be joined in conversation by Rachel Yoder.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Laura van den Burg,  author of The Third Hotel says of the book, “LaTanya McQueen writes brilliantly and incisively about the haunted histories that lurk behind landscapes and road signs; the tidal pull of childhood friendships; what it means to leave home and what it means to return. When the Reckoning Comes is an extraordinary, beautifully-crafted debut.”

    LaTanya McQueen has an MFA from Emerson College, a PhD from the University of Missouri, and was the 2017-2018 Robert P. Dana Emerging Writer Fellow at Cornell College. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Coe College. She published an essay collection, titled, And It Begins Like This and has been featured in Best American Essays, Carve Magazine, and Bennington Review. When the Reckoning Comes is her first novel.

    Rachel Yoder is a graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and also holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Arizona. A resident of Iowa City for 12 years, it's been her great pleasure to be a part of the literary community in her work with the Mission Creek Festival, Iowa Youth Writing Project, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, Iowa Young Writers' Studio, and UNESCO City of Literature. She is a founding editor of draft: the journal of process.

  • Launch Party for Lori Erickson: The Soul of the Family Tree

    August 25, 2021 - 5:30pm

    Harvest Preserve - Iowa City

    Please join us at 5:30 at the Harvest Preserve on Scott Boulevard for Lori Erickson's Launch Party to celebrate the release of her new book The Soul of the Family Tree.

    Forward Reviews says of the book, "The Soul of the Family Tree posits that a spiritual grounding in one’s family history can combat ‘historical amnesia’ and nurture a sense of belonging."

    Lori Erickson received a B.A. in English from Luther College and an M.A. in English from the University of Iowa. In addition to her books, she’s written more than a thousand articles for publications that include the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler, USA Today, Woman’s Day Magazine, and Travel + Leisure. She’s also the creator of Spiritual Travels, a website featuring holy sites around the world.

    Harvest Preserve is at 1645 N. Scott Blvd in Iowa City. Enter off Scott Boulevard (the gate is across from the big red barn). Please feel free to bring lawn chairs. Erickson will begin her talk about The Soul of the Family Tree at 5:30 and will talk for about half an hour.  Prairie Lights will have books for sale in the pond house, and the author will be happy to sign copies of the book.  If you'd like to stay for a potluck, bring a dish to share (drinks will be provided)!  All are welcome, please join us!

  • *POSTPONED* Iowa City Queer Home CookOUT Tour

    August 21, 2021 - 4:00pm

    High Ground Cafe


    **TO BE POSTPONED** Check back soon for details.

    Join us at High Ground Cafe to celebrate the release of the Home is Where You Queer Your Heart anthology at the Iowa City Queer Home CookOUT Tour! 

    Foglifter, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier non-profit LGBTQ+ literary arts press, announces the Queer Home CookOUT Tour. Foglifter road trips across the country to collaborate with local bookstores and the contributing writers of the Home is Where You Queer Your Heart anthology in their own hometowns. These contributors have invited a roster of local queer and trans talent to celebrate the anthology's themes of chosen family and community. 

    Join us for readings by TR Brady, Melissa Febos, Jessie Galloway, Timmy Beezhold, Romeo Oriogun, Miah Jeffra, Donika Kelly, Darius Stewart, Christopher Nelson and more! 

    Home is Where You Queer Your Heart anthologizes contemporary queer writers and artists creatively thinking through the complex and fluid realities of home in the U.S. and abroad. Curated during the 2020 U.S. presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, as the culture shifts into a new normal—and many queer people feel their nation has further precluded them from a place of comfort—poets, essayists, storytellers, and artists remind us that it is at our kitchen tables, in our bedrooms, on our porches that make us who we are.

    Edited by Miah Jeffra, Monique Mero-Williams and Arisa White, the anthology features Kazim Ali, K-Ming Chang, Jubi Arriola-Headley, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Rajiv Mohabir, Donika Kelly, Jason Villemez, Joy Priest, Yanyi, t’ai freedom ford, Marlin Jenkins, Airea D Matthews, sam sax, Christopher Soto, and so many more LGBTQ+ authors.

  • A Mighty Blaze Presents: Authors Love Bookstores with Curtis Sittenfeld

    August 4, 2021 - 3:00pm

    A Mighty Blaze’s Facebook and YouTube Channel

    Join us for Author's Love Bookstores presented by A Mighty Blaze! Author Curtis Sittenfeld will be discussing her novel Rodham with host Kimberly Hensle Lowrance. The event will be broadcasted live on A Mighty Blaze's Facebook and Youtube 

    Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of six novels: PrepThe Man of My DreamsAmerican WifeSisterlandEligible, and Rodham. Her first story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It, was published in 2018 and picked for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. Her books have been selected by The New York TimesTimeEntertainment Weekly, and People for their “Ten Best Books of the Year” lists, optioned for television and film, and translated into thirty languages. Her short stories have appeared in The New YorkerThe Washington Post, and Esquire, and in the Best American Short Stories anthology, of which she is the 2020 guest editor. Her non-fiction has appeared in The New York TimesTimeVanity FairThe AtlanticSlate, and on “This American Life.” A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis has appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” CBS’s “Early Show,” and PBS’s Newshour; and four times been a Jeopardy! answer 

    A Mighty Blaze is an online literary platform helping writers and readers connect in the age of COVID-19 and beyond—and helping all literary endeavors pivot to the digital age. New York Times bestselling authors Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum co-founded A Mighty Blaze with a group of volunteers to help quarantined writers introduce new books to readers and help readers find great reads. Since then, AMB’s weekly social media offerings have expanded to Authors Love Bookstores, Debut Spotlight, Frontliner Fridays, Lit Chick, Mighty Mysteries, Poets in Conversation, The Thoughtful Bro, and The Zeitgeist. A Mighty Blaze is proud to host special events from beach read bashes to cocktail parties and to have moved whole festivals online. A Mighty Blaze is committed to inclusive and debut voices and all who love the literary arts. Learn more at

  • Nickolas Butler and Benjamin Percy

    August 2, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading from Nickolas Butler and Benjamin Percy to celebrate the releases of their books Godspeed and The Ninth Metal.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay, calls Godspeed  “A glorious novel, as lyrical as it is suspenseful--breathless, tense, and shimmering with the sweat of desperate men. Butler delivers mystery and tragedy against a beautiful, inhospitable backdrop, anchored in the struggles of a thrummingly vivid cast of characters.”

    Marlon James, Booker Prize award-winning author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, says of The Ninth Metal, “Take one part dystopia, one part sci-fi, two parts apocalypse, then ride them roughshod through a bleak and bloody western, and it still wouldn't get close to what Ben Percy does here, which is blow open the core of humanity's dark heart.”

    Nickolas Butler is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Shotgun Lovesongs, The Hearts of Men, and Little Faith, and the story collection Beneath the Bonfire. Butler is the recipient of multiple literary prizes and commendations and has published articles, reviews, short stories, and poetry in publications such as Ploughshares, Narrative, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he now lives with his wife and two children on sixteen acres of land adjacent to a buffalo farm in rural Wisconsin.

    Benjamin Percy has won a Whiting Award, a Plimpton Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, an NEA fellowship, and the iHeartRadio Award for Best Scripted Podcast. He is the author of the novels  The Ninth Metal,  The Unfamiliar Garden,  The Dark Net,  The Dead Lands,  Red Moon, and  The Wilding, three story collections, and an essay collection,  Thrill Me. He also writes Wolverine and X-Force for Marvel Comics. He lives in Minnesota with his family.

  • Soul & Blues Festival Black Author's Panel

    July 31, 2021 - 11:00am

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us in celebrating the Soul & Blues Festival presented by Summer of the Arts with a Black Author's Panel featuring Jerald Walker, Dr. Mary E. Hicks and Venise Berry with moderator Arnold Daniels Jr. 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Jerald Walker A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Jerald Walker has published in magazines such as Creative Nonfiction, The Missouri Review, The Harvard Review, Mother Jones, The Iowa Review, and The Oxford American, and he has been widely anthologized, including five times in The Best American Essays. Walker is the author of Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, recipient of the 2011 PEN New England/L.L. Winship Award for Nonfiction and named a Best Memoir of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, and The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult. His latest book, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays was a Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction. He has received fellowships from the James Michener Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Dr. Mary E. Hicks is currently an assistant professor of Black Studies and Latin American History at Amherst College (Massachusetts) where she specializes in the history of the African Diaspora, the transatlantic slave trade, histories of race, gender and sexuality, and slavery in the Americas. Her current research centers the experience of the black seamen who made up the primary maritime labor force in the Atlantic world’s third most active slave trading port: Salvador da Bahia. Uncovering unique sociocultural dynamics of Salvador, and elucidating the connections between transatlantic slaving commerce and broader processes of acculturation, intellectual exchange, and the accumulation and circulation of material wealth between the Bight of Benin and Bahia, her book manuscript, Captive Cosmopolitans:Black Mariners and the World of South Atlantic Slavery, 1721-1835 (under contract with The Omohundro Institute for University of North Carolina Press) is based on her prize-winning dissertation completed in 2015. Prof. Hicks has previously served as Hutchins Center, Jefferson and Ford Fellow.

    Arnold Daniels, Jr is a former U.S. State Department Liaison. He is an Anthropologist, entrepreneur, educator and volunteer with the African American Museum of Iowa. Mr. Daniels has taught Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Cultural Geography, English, History, and Sociology at several East Coast colleges and universities. A longtime resident of Washington, D.C., he now makes his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Venise Berry received a BA (1977) in journalism and an MA (1979) in communication studies from The University of Iowa. Her PhD was awarded in 1989 in radio, TV, and film at the University of Texas in Austin. Her professional media career began in radio news but has expanded into teaching, media research, and criticism, as well as fiction, script, and nonfiction writing. She is the author of three national bestselling novels, So Good, An African American Love Story (Dutton/Penguin, 1996), All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale (Dutton/Penguin 2000), and Colored Sugar Water (Dutton/Penguin/Putnam 2002). In 2003 she received the Creative Contribution to Literature award from the Zora Neale Hurston Society. All of Me received a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Also in 2001 she was recognized with an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation in Des Moines.  

  • NIGHTBITCH by Rachel Yoder Outdoor Reading and Book Release Party

    July 30, 2021 - 7:00pm

    5th floor patio of the Chauncey

    Please join us with Iowa City debut author Rachel Yoder on the 5 th floor patio of the Chauncey Building on Friday, July 30 at 7pm for a reading, conversation, signing, and book release party for Nightbitch. Ticket badges are required and can be picked up while they last at Prairie Lights. The event is generously hosted and sponsored by The Tuesday Agency. Rachel will be joined in conversation by Nina Lohman, Jenny Colville, and Alisha Jeddeloh.

    Nightbitch has been heralded an incredible feat by Carmen Maria Machado, who describes it as "A feral, unholy marriage of Tillie Olsen and Kafka.” Nightbitch has received praise from Publishers Weekly, Jenny Offill, and Kevin Wilson, and has already been optioned for film by Annapurna with Amy Adams set to star.

    Rachel Yoder is a graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and also holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Arizona. A resident of Iowa City for 12 years, it's been her great pleasure to be a part of the literary community in her work with the Mission Creek Festival, Iowa Youth Writing Project, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, Iowa Young Writers' Studio, and UNESCO City of Literature. She is a founding editor of draft: the journal of process.

    Ticket badges are available at Prairie Lights Books - 15 S. Dubuque St, while supplies last. Books will be sold at the event by Prairie Lights.

    **-This will be held on the patio of the Chauncey Building, located on the 5th floor at 404 E. College Street, Iowa City. The rain location will be inside the Tuesday Agency, on the 4th floor of the same building. Wear or bring your ticket badge for entry.

  • Simon Van Booy in conversation with Sarah Braunstein

    July 28, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Simon Van Booy to celebrate the release of Night Came with Many StarsHe will be joined in conversation by author Sarah Braunstein.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Dani Shapiro, author of New York Times Bestseller Inheritance says of the book, "I have long loved the work of Simon Van Booy, and this spare, gorgeously-written novel may be his best yet. These unforgettable characters and the intersection of their destinies through time form a pattern as true and human and beautiful as life itself."

    Simon Van Booy is the award-winning and best-selling author of fifteen books that include: Night Came with Many Stars, The Secret Lives of People in Love (short-listed for the Vilcek Prize), Love Begins in Winter (awarded the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award), Everything Beautiful Began After, The Illusion of Separateness, Tales of Accidental Genius, Father's Day, The Sadness of Beautiful Things (short-listed for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize), two novels for children, Gertie Milk & The Keeper of Lost Things and Gertie Milk & The Great Keeper Rescue, along with three anthologies of philosophy, Why We Fight, Why Our Decisions Don't Matter and Why We Need Love.

    He has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, National Public Radio, the BBC, and the Chinese edition of ELLE. His books have been translated into many languages and optioned for film.

    Sarah Braunstein is the author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children. In 2010, she was named one of 5 Under 35 fiction writers by the National Book Foundation, and she received a 2007 Rona Jaffe Writer's Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, Ploughshares, The Sun, and many other magazines. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and teaches at Colby College.