November 15, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kirstin Chen will read from her recent novel Bury What We Cannot Takenamed a most anticipated book by The Millions, The Rumpus, and Harper’s Bazaar. Nine-year-old San San and her twelve-year-old brother, Ah Liam, discover their grandmother taking a hammer to a portrait of Chairman Mao. To prove his loyalty to the Party, Ah Liam reports his grandmother to the authorities. But his belief in doing the right thing sets in motion a terrible chain of events. “Bury What We Cannot Take explores what it takes to survive in a world gone mad—and what is lost when we do. Kirstin Chen has written both an engrossing historical drama and a nuanced exploration of how far the bonds of familial love can stretch.” — Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

    Kirstin Chen is also the author of Soy Sauce for Beginners, and her short stories have appeared in ZyzzyvaHobartPank, and the Best New Singaporean Short Stories. She was the fall 2017 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence in Singapore, and has received awards from the Steinbeck Fellows Program, Sewanee, Hedgebrook, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently resides in San Francisco.


    November 14, 2018 - 7:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Novelist and UI Professor Venise Berry will read from her new book of essays, Driven: Reflections on Love, Career, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Berry writes that her fiftieth birthday snuck up behind her, held a gun to her head, and demanded her soul. That milestone triggered a deep longing to better understand the choices she’d made in her life. Offering words of wisdom, cultural analysis, historical context, and personal narrative, Berry’s essays deeply consider the challenges facing women today when it comes to relationships and careers.

    Venise Berry is the author of three national bestselling novels: So Good: An African American Love StoryAll of Me: A Voluptuous Tale, which received an Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and Colored Sugar Water. She received a Creative Contribution to Literature Award from the Zora Neale Hurston Society, and was recognized with an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation in Des Moines. She is also the co-author of The Historical Dictionary of African American Film and The 50 Most Influential Black Films, along with her brother S. Torriano Berry, a professor in film at Howard University. Her research explores media, African Americans and popular culture. She co-edited Black Culture and Experience: Contemporary Issues. Berry is also published widely in creative and academic circles with numerous short stories, journal articles, and book chapters.


    November 13, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    "The staggering thing about a life's work is it takes a lifetime to complete," Craig Morgan Teicher writes in these luminous essays. We Begin in Gladness considers how poets start out, how they learn to hear themselves, and how some offer us that rare, glittering thing: lasting work. Teicher traces the poetic development of the works of Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery, Louise Glück, and Francine J. Harris, among others, to illuminate the paths they forged—by dramatic breakthroughs or by slow increments, and always by perseverance. We Begin in Gladness is indispensable for readers curious about the artistic life and for writers wondering how they might light out--or even scale the peak of the mountain.

    Former Writers’ Workshop instructor Craig Morgan Teicher is an acclaimed poet and critic. He is the author of three books of poetry, including The Trembling Answers, winner of the 2017 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and he regularly writes reviews for the Los Angeles Times, NPR, and The New York Times Book Review. He lives in New Jersey.


    November 12, 2018 - 7:00pm


    Prairie Lights Presents Alexander McCall Smith at the First United Methodist Church, 214 E. Jefferson St, Iowa City.

    To obtain a ticket to the event, purchase a copy of the McCall's new book, The Colors of All the Cattle ($25.95) in person or by phone from Prairie Lights Bookstore (tickets not available online).  CALL PRAIRIE LIGHTS (319) 337-2681 or visit Prairie Lights at 15 S. Dubuque Street, Iowa City.

    Please join us for the evening to enjoy the genuine warmth, eloquence, and wit of one of the most charming and prolific writers alive. Beloved author Alexander McCall Smith will visit Iowa City to talk about his new book, take questions from the audience, sign copies of his books, and meet his readers. Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and he was a law professor at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland.

    Call 319-337-2681 or stop in to Prairie Lights (sorry, tickets not available online). One book per ticket, The Colors of All the Cattle ($25.95) will be released Nov 6th and can be picked up at Prairie Lights on or after that date, or at the event.

    The event will last approximately an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, followed by a signing. The author will be happy to pose for photos.

    “A life without stories would be no life at all. And stories bound us, did they not, one to another, the living to the dead, people to animals, people to the land?” — Alexander McCall Smith, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies



    November 11, 2018 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore and Cafe

    Join us for our annual reading in support of The Iowa Youth Writing Project. 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!


    November 9, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Contemporary essayists Meghan O’Gieblyn and Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel will talk about their new books, Interior States and Fear Icons.

    Critic and essayist Meghan O'Gieblyn was born into an evangelical family, attended the famed Moody Bible Institute in Chicago before she had a crisis of belief, and still lives in the Midwest, aka "Flyover Country."  Her essays have appeared in Harper's Magazine, n+1, The Point, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Best American Essays 2017, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Interior States: Essays is her first book.  "[O'Gieblyn] conjures midwestern angst . . .  with humor and dread . . . She examines big-time evangelicalism's growing avoidance of evil and sin ("Hell") and the rise and fall of Christian rock ("Sniffin' Glue") without a particle of condescension, showing why interest in those phenomena should be serious and humane . . ." — Booklist

    Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program graduate Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel's book of essays, Fear Icons, won the inaugural Gournay Prize from Mad Creek Books. She has published in the Tin House blog, The Kenyon Review, and Conjunctions. She now teaches creative writing at Whitman College in Washington. “Kisha Schlegel's brilliant debut illuminates some of our most hardened cultural icons and the fears that they induce . . . This is a bold new literary voice of fierce intelligence, vulnerability, and empathy.” —John D’Agata 


    November 8, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights



    November 7, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Author/artist  Edward Carey will read from his marvelous new novel, Little.  "A quirky imagining of the life of famed wax sculptor Madame Tussaud, Little is a delightfully strange portrait of a young orphan honing her eccentric craft amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Carey's flair for macabre whimsy has drawn comparisons to Tim Burton (take a look at the illustrations and you can see why)." —Time

    Edward Carey is a novelist, visual artist, and playwright. He is the author of Observatory Mansions, and Alva & Irva, as well as his acclaimed YA series, the Iremonger Trilogy. He has been an instructor for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a resident with the International Writing Program, and lived in Iowa City for a time with his wife, the author Elizabeth McCracken, and their family. Born in England, he now teaches at the University of Texas and resides with his family in Austin.


    November 4, 2018 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ice Cube Press presents Barbara Feller and Betty Moffett, who will read from their new books, The Road to Waubeek and Coming Clean.  Both books are about Iowa.

    Barbara Feller has worked as an educator in schools and museums in the Cedar Rapids area. “I found The Road To Waubeek by author and good friend Barb Feller to be a wonderful and satisfying account of the timeless beauty and value of Linn County, Iowa. There is so much to discover and appreciate, including the richness of the friendships between Jay Sigmund, Grant Wood, and Paul Engle. These pages help capture the essence of an incredibly creative and meaningful time in the Midwestern Heartland.” —Mark Stoffer Hunter

    Betty Moffett lives in Grinnell, Iowa, where she taught for nearly thirty years in the college’s Writing Lab and then began using the advice she offered to her students in her own work. Her stories have appeared in various magazines and journals.

    “In Coming Clean, Betty Moffett pays homage to the power of storytelling, revealing the glimmer and grit that ripple beneath the stoic exterior of rural America. In prose that’s as clean and inviting as a fresh-swept porch, Moffett lovingly chronicles the heart-swells and heartaches that make up a life well lived.” —Dean Bakopoulos


    November 1, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Author, documentary producer, Roboprofessor, and cultural critic Kembrew McLeod will talk about his new book, The Downtown Pop Underground: New York City and the Literary Punks, Renegade Artists, DIY Filmmakers, Mad Playwrights, and Rock 'n' Roll Glitter Queens —a kaleidoscopic tour of a small geographic area had an outsized impact on American culture during the 1960s and 1970s.

    "Downtown New York in the latter half of twentieth century was so much more than a Warhol print and a CBGB-OMFUG T-shirt. McLeod tracked down more than 100 denizens of that freaky bohemian milieu to tell the stories most people don't know. The Downtown Pop Underground breathes new fire into a familiar history and is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how American bohemia really happened.” — Ann Powers "critic, NPR Music"

    The Downtown Pop Underground honors those who were at the forefront of a movement that transformed our understandings of sexuality and artistic freedom.” — Lily Tomlin

    Kembrew McLeod is an award-winning author of several books whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate, and Salon. A professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, he is the recipient of a recent NEH Public Scholar fellowship to support this project. He lives in Iowa City.