• COLSON WHITEHEAD at The Englert Theatre

    November 2, 2016 - 7:00pm

    The Englert Theatre

    Prairie Lights presents Colson Whitehead at The Englert Theatre. Please join us for this FREE event with New York Times Bestselling author Colson Whitehead. He will read from and talk about his new novel, The Underground Railroad which has been selected for Oprah’s Book Club and is a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. The novel manages to feel historical yet contemporary as a young slave, 15-year-old Cora, flees the antebellum South. Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.

    Colson Whitehead is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the author of The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, Sag Harbor, Zone One, The Colossus of New York, and The Noble Hustle. Prairie Lights encourages everyone to come to this momentous reading with one of the great writers of our time. Books will be available for purchase, and Colson Whitehead will be happy to sign books purchased at the event or from Prairie Lights. Every book purchase helps Prairie Lights bring great authors to Iowa City!

  • GREIL MARCUS at The Englert Theatre

    November 1, 2016 - 7:00pm

    The Englert Theatre

    In a special event sponsored by the UI Nonfiction Writing Program, celebrated music critic Greil Marcus will read from his acclaimed writing on November 1, 2016 at 7 p.m. at The Englert Theatre, in an event that is free and open to the public.

    Enormously influential, intensely prolific, and ardently engaged, Marcus served as Rolling Stone’s original reviews editor and has since written and edited more than fifteen books on music and American culture. Marcus is the author of the seminal work Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, called “the best and funniest book ever written about America or its music” by Rolling Stone, “the book that launched a thousand rock critics” by the New Yorker, and “perhaps the finest book ever written about pop music” by the New York Times Book Review.   

    Among Marcus’s other books are Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads, The Shape of Things To Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977–1992, The Doors: A Life of Listening to Five Mean Years, and The History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in Ten Songs. A contributor to the New York Times, Esquire, Creem, the Village Voice, Artforum, Salon, the Believer, Pitchfork, and others, Marcus has written his long-running column, “Real Life Rock Top Ten,” for the past three decades. At once timely and timeless, sly and surprising, breathless and wild in its reach, Marcus’s virtuosic prose continues to energize critics, writers, musicians, and lovers of American culture.

    Greil Marcus’s visit is sponsored by the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Office, The Englert Theatre and Prairie Lights Books.



    October 29, 2016 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa native Dan Kellams will read from Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood. This collection of essays distills the essence of childhood when kids roamed free as sparrows. In Marion, Iowa, during the 1940s, untouched by television, they created their own amusement wherever they found it, in backyards, side streets, alleys, and pastures. In Mistaken for a King, Kellam patrols his old haunts; the movie theater, the town park, and the root beer drive-in, and the muddy Wapsipinicon River. It tells the tribulations of being a newspaper delivery boy, and the joys of learning sports in backyards and vacant lots. He also writes about things like gun ownership at a time during World War II when every boy expected to grow up and fight for his country.

    Kellams is the author of A Coach's Life: Les Hipple and the Marion Indians. He is a graduate of Cornell College in Mount Vernon and holds an MS in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. He was an information specialist at West Point, an editor for Radio Free Europe in Munich, and a public relations executive in New York. Kellams and his wife, Elaine, currently live in Arizona.

    "Rich and beautiful. Don't miss this book." --Paul Ingram


    October 28, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Chuck Collins will read from Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good. Born into the one percent, Collins gave away his inheritance at 26 and spent the next three decades mobilizing against inequality. He uses his perspective from both sides of the divide to deliver a new narrative. Collins calls for a ceasefire and invites the wealthy to come back home, investing themselves and their wealth in struggling communities. And he asks the non-wealthy to build alliances with the one percent and others at the top of the wealth ladder.

    Chuck Collins is a researcher, campaigner, storyteller, and writer based at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits He has written extensively on wealth inequality in previous books like 99 to 1, Wealth and Our Commonwealth (with Bill Gates Sr.), and Economic Apartheid in America as well as in The Nation, The American Prospect, and numerous other magazines and news outlets. He lives near Boston.

    Born on Third Base offers a clear and compelling case for why the privileged and powerful must act to reverse widening inequality of income, wealth, and political power in America.” —Robert B. Reich, former US Secretary of Labor; author of Saving Capitalism


    October 27, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Yaa Gyasi will read from and talk about her New York Times bestselling novel, Homegoing. The novel, which has garnered a huge amount of attention, is the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

    Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She lives in Berkeley, California. This special event will be moderated by Writers’ Workshop graduate Liz Weiss.

    Homegoing is an inspiration.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates


    October 26, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Stephanie Ash will read from her surprising and unconventional new novel,
    The Annie Year, published by Unnamed Press. This is a  special in-conversation event with local author Cate Dicharry. “In The Annie Year, Tandy Caide, sardonic CPA and pathological people-pleaser, enters the year of her reckoning, the year she starts making her own moral ledger. Like the mythological Annie—you know, the one who sings 'It’s a Hard Knock Life' but also 'Tomorrow'—Tandy has spunky charm and believable innocence. I read this mordantly funny book in one sitting, it's a fine novel with a main character you’ll miss once you’ve finished."  —Debra Monroe

    Stephanie Ash is a former editor at Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis and Mankato, Minnesota, and is originally from rural Iowa. This is her first novel. Cate Dicharry is the author of The Fine Art of Fucking Up, also published by Unnamed Press, and works for the UI International Writing Program. She lives in Iowa City.

    "Ash’s debut novel brilliantly captures the slanted quirkiness of a Midwest full of small-business owners and exploding home-methamphetamine labs... Darkly hilarious and weirdly beguiling."
    —Kirkus Reviews


    October 25, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Manuel Vilas will read from his poetry collection, Great Vilas, recently published by Song Bridge Press. Translated from the Spanish by Pablo Rodríguez Balbontín and William F. Blair, it is his first book translated into the English language.

    Manuel Vilas was born in Barbastro, in the Huesca region of Spain. Vilas has published 13 books of poetry to date. In addition to Gran Vilas, or Great Vilas in translation, these include Resurrection, Calor, and more recently El hundimiento. He is the author of numerous novels including España, and El luminoso regalo, and has also been widely published in newspapers and literary journals. Vilas has published primarily in Spanish, although El luminoso regalo was translated into French and Italian.

    Julio Ortega, in the Prologue to Great Vilas, writes, that Great Vilas in translation, "seems to be a radical rewriting of the contemporary history of the Ibero-American world. Soccer, reality shows, movies, and literary biographies are interspersed with the reading and writing of journalism and historiography, provoking a new logic of entanglements and outcomes as comical as they are satirical, as intimate as they are ultimately free."


    October 24, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Steven Sherrill will read from his long-awaited sequel to The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time. It’s taken 16 years, but the Minotaur is back! The selfsame Minotaur from Greek mythology, transplanted to the modern American South, is working as a Civil War re-enactor at a run-down living history park in the Rust Belt of central Pennsylvania. “M” is still experiencing the pain of being a lonely outsider and he is still searching for some kind of connection to ease his long journey through life.

    Sherrill is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Fiction, and his first novel, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, was selected by Neil Gaiman for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents. Sherrill is the author of Visits From the Drowned Girl, The Locktender’s House, the poetry collection, Ersatz Anatomy, and the novel Joy, PA. He teaches at Penn State Altoona and lives in State College, Pennsylvania.


    October 23, 2016 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Legodile ‘Dredd X’ Seganabeng (poet, fiction and nonfiction writer; Botswana) is a high school art teacher and spoken-word poet, performing regionally in Southern Africa, and across the country of Botswana. A recipient of the Bessie Head Literature Award, he frequently writes on human rights and women’s rights. His first novel, Josie, is being published in 2016. He participates courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone.

    Ng Virginia Suk-yin (fiction writer; Hong Kong) writes stories, often about her generation’s life in contemporary Hong Kong. They were recently gathered in the collection [People from the Mountain]. She also has a career in public relations. She participates courtesy of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.


    October 21, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Sarah Prineas will present her fantastic new book, Rose & Thorn. This beauty isn’t sleeping! Discover the true story of Sleeping Beauty in this bold YA fairy-tale retelling filled with thrilling adventure and romance, perfect for fans of the Lunar Chronicles and the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. The old props are in place: a spindle, a beautiful girl, a century-long slumber. But Prineas makes it fresh and gives it zest in this great, empowering adventure.

    Sarah Prineas is the author of the immensely popular Magic Thief series, and is also the author of Winterling, Summerkin, Moonkind, and Ash & Bramble. She holds a PhD in English literature and has taught honors seminars on fantasy and science fiction literature at the University of Iowa. She lives just outside of Iowa City in the midst of the corn, where she wrangles dogs, cats, chickens, and goats, goes on lots of hikes, and finds time to write. She is married to a physics professor and has two kids.