IWP Bookshelf: New Releases from IWP Alumni

For over 50 years now, the International Writing Program (IWP) has been bringing writers from all over the world to Iowa City. For some, it’s a first encounter with America, certainly with the Midwest; a good number of them already have a publishing career in the U.S., however. Check out a selection of 2017-8 titles by IWP alumni here below. Chances are excellent that you can find them at University of Iowa Main Library, whether you are a UI or a community borrower. – Nataša Ďurovičová, IWP Editor


Pakistani novelist, journalist, and blogger Bina Shah (IWP Fall Resident ’11) has written Before She Sleeps, “a book that is in explicit conversation with The Handmaid’s Tale, and though Shah’s society is emphatically secular, situating her narrative in a predominantly Muslim area of the world is an overdue enlargement of the cultural conversation that Atwood’s novel continues to provoke. But Shah’s novel, which blends the spy genre and soap opera with speculative fiction, isn’t really the feminist dystopia one might expect.” – Kirkus Review

(HarperCollins, 2018)


Bride and Groom, the new novel by IWP veteran Alisa Ganieva (Russia, IWP Fall Resident ’12, ’18; IWP Between the Lines Instructor ’15-’17; “To What Do I Belong” IWP Conference ’17) “…seems to promise traditional marriage story. Her main characters, a young man and woman who have each returned home from Moscow to ‘an outlying settlement’ near a big city in Dagestan, and face pressure from their respective families to find a suitable match, seem to be playing stock parts familiar from romantic comedies… But ultimately this is a tenser, sadder tale that underscores the horror and despair of post-Soviet life. Ganieva immerses us in a world where corruption and violence are so widespread and legal protections so meaningless that even love at first sight cannot guarantee a happy ending.” – Emily Johnson, World Literature Today

(English edition translated from the Russian by Carol Apollonio. Deep Vellum, 2017.)


In Crimson Papers: Reflections on Struggle, Suffering, and Creativity in Pakistan, a collection of four essays entitled “Blood,” “Sweat,” “Tears,” and “Ink,” Harris Khalique (IWP Fall Resident ’15; “To What Do I Belong” IWP Conference ’17) “elaborate(s) on what has happened to Pakistani citizens’ rights to a dignified physical space to live, a respectable economic space to earn a decent living, a free intellectual space to think, and an uninhibited artistic space to create.” – Anwar Shaheen, The Free Library

(Lahore: Oxford University Press, 2018)


Zot ani, Iowa [It’s Me, Iowa] is a slim “memoir” of Galit Dahan Carlibach’s 2016 Fall Residency at the IWP, “during which she underwent a complete mental breakdown, commencing an affair with a local musician before murdering him and dumping his body in the Mississippi. That is, it’s not an actual memoir at all but a very dark comedy taking wild fictional liberties in Philip Roth fashion with the happily married (and not homicidal) writer’s real-life 2016 stint at the Iowa program.” – Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2018

(In Hebrew. Tel Aviv, Graff, 2018)


In Negative Space, her third collection of poems published in the US, Luljeta Lleshanaku (IWP Fall Resident ’99) “searches for answers to… the existential and historical ‘why.’ One may read this collection as a poetry of witness, as Lleshanaku seeks to understand significant moments of recent Albanian history through the lens of her family’s experiences. However, the poet complicates the act of witnessing by refusing to denounce those responsible for atrocities [and] instead focuses on poetry’s ability to help people come to terms with trauma. The opening poem… recalls the narrator as a 12-year-old girl watching her parents return from making love in the barn, ‘looking around in fear / like two thieves.’ Familiarity with fear and deprivation mean that her empathetic, if deliberately inattentive, eye will retain these memories over the decades: ‘You cannot easily forget what you watch with one closed eye— / the death of the hero in the film, / or your first eclipse of the sun.’” – Viktor Berberi, Poetry Foundation

(English translation from the Albanian by Ani Gjika. New York: New Directions, 2018)


Trol, by the Slovak journalist, translator, and novelist Michal Hvorecký (IWP Fall Resident ‘04) is set in eastern Europe in a near future: the European Union has collapsed, and is replaced by Fortress Europe.

The antagonist it now faces is a dictatorship in whose realm public opinion is fully managed by an army of internet trolls. One of them, the unnamed protagonist, gripped by ever stronger doubts, attempts to destroy the System from within, together with an ally. The effort pushes them into freefall inside the network—and to the far edge of their trust in each other. – Translated from the German publisher Klett-Cotta

(In Slovak and German. Bratislava: Marenčín, 2017)


Novelist, essayist, and scholar Dung Kai-cheung (IWP Fall Resident ’09) tells two stories in The History of the Adventures of Vivi and Vera: “One of a novelist who recounts his family’s history against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s development from the 1930s to the 1990s, building his story through vignettes about the protagonist’s relationship with technological inventions that shaped his life, as glimpsed through his uncertain memory and family myths. Running parallel to this is a rebellion by the novelist’s oppressed fictional characters, who attempt to break the yoke of servile obedience laid upon them by the conventions of novel-writing. The central character, Vivi, has been written into being by the author but, once created, takes a life of her own.” – BooksActually

(English translation from the Chinese by Wai Ping Yau. Hong Kong University Press, 2018)


UNESCO launches Creative Cities Network call for applications

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network has launched its 2019 Call for Applications. Interested cities are invited to submit their application by 30 June 2019.

For information about applying, or to access the required documents, visit https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/content/call-applications

Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) fosters international cooperation within and across cities of the world that have invested in culture and creativity as an accelerator of sustainable development.

Today the Network brings together 180 cities from 72 countries from all regions of the world. The UNESCO Creative Cities have a common mission: placing creativity and cultural industries at the core of their development strategies to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

As laboratories of ideas and innovative practices, the UNESCO Creative Cities bring a concrete contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda through policy-making and grass-root projects promoting the participation of all stakeholders, including women, youth and vulnerable groups. The Creative Cities’ commitment testifies to their central role at the frontline of sustainable development for communities.

The names of the new Creative Cities designated in 2019 will be announced before the end of the year.

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church Presents: A Conversation with Biographer Maxwell King

On April 27, author Maxwell King will share insights on Mister Rogers as part of St. Andrew’s weekend-long series, “A Friend Just Like You.” He will be joined by former Iowa City resident Saleem Ghubril, founder of the Pittsburgh Project.

In “The Good Neighbor,” Maxwell King traces Fred Rogers’ personal, professional, and artistic life to provide the first full-length biography of the man who became a public television icon. The book is being hailed as the definitive portrait of a beloved figure cherished by multiple generations.

What: A Conversation with Maxwell King, author of “The Good Neighbor”
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday April 27
Where: St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 140 Gathering Place Lane, Iowa City.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network statement on New Zealand terror attacks

The Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature stands in solidarity with our colleagues and we wish the best for our friends in Dunedin, Auckland, and Utrecht. UCCN Statement on New Zealand terror attacks.

One Book Two Book: February 22-24, 2019

One Book Two Book is an annual celebration of children’s literature in the City of Literature. This year’s special guest is award winning author and illustrator, Claudia McGehee!

Claudia McGehee is an American children’s picture book author and illustrator. Her mission is to create art and writings that inspire and connect people, especially children, with their natural world. McGehee works in scratchboard, a medium that mimics traditional wood-cuts. She scratches out images from an ink-coated board, removing layers and revealing stories.

We’ll kick things off Friday evening, February 22, with our Once Upon a Time dinner at the Hotel Vetro.  “Once Upon a Time” is a magical literary experience created to celebrate stories written and performed by children from each elementary school in Iowa City.

Saturday hundreds of young readers and writers will converge downtown at the Hotel Vetro for the Children’s Book Fair.  Non-stop activities including the Mississippi River Museum, Absolute Science, Claudia McGehee, face painting, author readings and signings, Brio and Duplo trains, arts and crafts, and costumed characters will make for an extraordinary day.  Attendees can meet with authors, discover new books, play with storybook characters, watch a play and be inspired by fun programming and writing workshops throughout the day!

On Sunday we invite the community to come together and celebrate creative writing by outstanding “up and coming” young authors. Two students from each grade will be honored for “Excellence” in one of the following categories, The Write Stuff and From the Heart, and they will read their work on stage at Macbride Auditorium. Other student “Writers of Distinction” will be presented certificates for their writing.  Thanks to generous donations from community members and local businesses, each student author is eligible to win amazing prizes including e-readers, tablets, and gift certificates.