Live From Prairie Lights

"Live from Prairie Lights” is an internationally known readings series, which features some of the best up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from all over the globe. Presented before a live audience and streamed over the world wide web, this long running series brings the spoken word from the bookstore to the masses. Most readings begin @ 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to assure yourself a seat.

The Writing University live streams many of our readings here.
The Live from Prairie Lights audio archive is available here.
Iowa City PATV has a video archive of readings located here.
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  • KAREN BENDER in conversation with SAMANTHA CHANG

    January 17, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Karen Bender, the National Book Award finalist for Refund, returns with the short story collection The New Order. These stories boldly examine the changes in American culture over the last two years through the increasing presence of violence, bigotry, sexual harassment, and the emotional costs of living under constant threat.  “What an amazing collection this is. Anyone who doubts that true art can be written in response to what’s going on in America needs to read The New Order.” —Joan Silber

    Karen Bender is also the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. She has won grants from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the NEA. Bender is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Virginia with her husband, the author Robert Anthony Siegel, and their two children. Bender will be joined in conversation by Writers' Workshop Director Sam Chang.


    January 18, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    U.S. correspondent for The Guardian, Chris McGreal will read from American Overdose. "McGreal, an award-winning journalist, presents this grim cautionary tale of opioids, greed, and addiction in three acts: 'Dealing, ' 'Hooked, and 'Withdrawal'.... McGreal goes on to successfully address the question of how the greatest drug epidemic in history grew largely unchecked for nearly two decades....What can be done to reverse this? McGreal's powerfully stated indictment is a start." —Booklist

    Chris McGreal is a reporter for The Guardian and former journalist at the BBC. He was the Guardian's correspondent in Johannesburg, Jerusalem and Washington DC, and now writes from across the United States. His awards for coverage of the Rwandan genocide, the Middle East, and the economic recession in America include the James Cameron prize for “combining moral vision and professional integrity” and the Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism that “penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth.” McGreal is a former merchant seaman.


    January 21, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Madhuri Vijay will read from her elegant, epic debut novel, The Far Field.  
    “Vijay provides that alchemical mix of political examination with personal journey that deepens all great novels. The Far Field plays out along the Indian/Kashmir border and follows a young woman's awakening into the dark realities of her family and her country. As an added bonus, her mother is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary literature. At times brutal, but always tuned to the desperately sweet longing for human connection, Vijay has created a necessary and lovely work that transcends 2018!"
    ―Brian Lampkin

    Madhuri Vijay is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and a recipient of the Henfield Prize. Vijay’s writing has received a Pushcart Prize, as well as a 30-Below Prize from Narrative Magazine, and has appeared in Best American Non-Required Reading, Narrative, and Salon, among other publications. Vijay was born in Bangalore.


    January 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native and bestselling author of Descent, Tim Johnston will read from his new literary thriller, The Current.  "I would have taken a break long before 2:00 a.m. last night were it not for Johnston's masterly ability to rummage inside the heads of his various characters, revealing the frayed fabric of small-town life in the process and showing us the stand-up grit of a handful of women and men . . . We need a little hyperbole if we're going to adequately describe how much we love a Tim Johnston novel." — Bill Ott, Booklist

    Tim Johnston, a native of Iowa City, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Descent, as well as a young adult novel, Never So Green, and the story collection Irish Girl, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.


    January 23, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Paul's Book Club in January will feature Tom Drury's hilarious novel, Hunts in Dreams.  Tom Drury, who'll be teaching Fiction in the Iowa Writers' Workshop this Spring, will be joining us for the discussion of his work.  Drury hails from northern Iowa and has taught in Germany and Italy.

    "Here's an author who sees and hears what others either miss or fail to note the significance of."—Richard Russo

    Among Drury's other novels are, Pacific, The Driftless Area, and The End of Vandalism all told in a deadpan style, that keeps you laughing. We hope to see many of you to come down to Prairie Lights on Wednesday, January 23rd, to hear one of Iowa's finest writers at his most entertaining.


    January 24, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Tom Hunt, the author of Killer Choice, a thriller "full of shocks and twists you won't see coming" (Lee Child), will debut his brand new novel in a special early-release event. One Fatal Mistake is set in Cedar Rapids, and is about an awful night, a hit-and-run, and a lie that goes horribly wrong.  

    Washington, Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate Tom Hunt is an award-winning advertising copywriter. He has worked for some of the nation's largest and best-known agencies, including J. Walter Thompson and Saatchi & Saatchi. He lives in New York.


    January 25, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for the final Prairie Lights reading for The Wapsipinicon Almanac. This year marks the 25th and final edition of the beloved journal. Tim Fay will host the event joined by several contributors to the new issue – Erika Billerbeck, Kelley Donham, Avery Gregurich, Steve Maravetz, David Miller, and John Peterson.

    Tim Fay, proprietor of the Route 3 Press in rural Anamosa, has edited and published The Wapsipinicon Almanac – roughly annually – using antique letterpress technology, since 1988. Each issue is a mix of fiction, reviews, essays, poetry, art and practical information, packaged in the format and feel of an old-time almanac. “Part New Yorker, part Farmers’ Almanac, this magazine should silence anyone who thinks Iowa doesn’t have a literary culture.” —Joshua Kucera



    January 30, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    2020 Democratic Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, will read from and talk about his book, The War on Normal People . "In this powerful book, Andrew Yang highlights the urgent need to rewrite America's social contract. In a call to arms that comes from both head and heart, Yang has made an important contribution to the debate about where America is headed and what we need to do about it."—Alec Ross

    Andrew Yang is the founder of Venture for America, a non-profit that places top college graduates in start-ups for two years in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. Yang was named a Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship and a Champion of Change by the White House and one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business." He was also named to the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Department of Commerce. He is a graduate of Columbia Law, where he was an Editor of the Law Review, and Brown University where he graduated with degrees in Economics and Political Science.

  • JAMIL JAN KOCHAI in conversation with ALEXIA ARTHURS

    January 31, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Current MFA candidate in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Jamil Jan Kochai will read from his new novel, 99 Nights in Logar.  "99 Nights in Logar is a revelation, in every sense of the word. An intimate look at childhood, at an Afghan province, at people and places as they deserve to be known, in all their complications ... the writing is all energy, adventure, and possibility. Jamil Kochai is an astoundingly talented writer, listen up."—Justin Torres

    Jamil Jan Kochai was born in Pakistan and grew up in the United States. He has a bachelor’s degree from UC Sacramento, and a master’s degree from UC Davis. His work has been published in A Public Space and The Capilano Review. He currently lives in Iowa City.

    He will be joined in conversation by author Alexia Arthurs. Alexia Arthurs is a current instructor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of How to Love a Jamaican.


    February 1, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop Graduate Novuyo Rosa Tshuma will read from her new novel, House of Stone. “With luminous language, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma explores the treacherous terrain of colonization and decolonization, remembering and forgetting, and love and betrayal. The result is a gripping account of revolution and its aftermath, both for a country and for one man.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen

    Novuyo's work has been featured in McSweeney’s and The Displaced, and she is the author of a debut collection, Shadows, which was published to great critical acclaim in 2013 by the South African publisher Kwela. Novuyo serves on the editorial advisory board and is a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of refugee and immigrant literature based in San Francisco. She currently lives in Houston, Texas.