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Smiley's Shakespeare retelling will hit the stage in opera adaptation

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

For the Talk of Iowa Book Club, Jane Smiley shares the process of writing A Thousand Acres, a modern retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear and the impact the novel has had since its release. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction 30 years ago, and was turned into a major motion picture. Now, an opera based on the story is in the works. The Des Moines Metro Opera will perform the world premiere of “A Thousand Acres” on July 9th in Indianola.

In this episode, host Charity Nebbe speaks with the opera's director, Kristine McIntyre, about the upcoming production and author Mary Swander, who was at the Iowa Writer's Workshop at the same time as Smiley and wrote the play "Map of My Kingdom" about farmland transition.


  • Jane Smiley, author of the novel A Thousand Acres
  • Kristine McIntyre, director of the “A Thousand Acres” opera
  • Mary Swander, writer, professor emerita, founder of AgArts
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.