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Release: Immediate

UI Writers' Workshop director Conroy joins French Legion of Honor

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Frank Conroy, director of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, recently received the government of France's highest cultural honor when he was named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. The title was decreed during a ceremony at the French Consulate in Chicago.

Other recipients were Writer's Workshop graduate John Irving, E.L. Doctorow and William Styron, all of whom, like Conroy, are widely read in translation in France. Conroy's work has been very well received by the literary critical community in France as well as by the general public.

The Legion of Honor was established by Napoleon. The title Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters is similar to being named a knight by Britain's monarchy.

"All my work has been published by Gallimard in France," Conroy said. "I was particularly happy (about the honor) because my novel 'Body and Soul' is about music and the French seem to appreciate that."

Conroy is the author of the renowned memoir "Stop Time," widely recognized as a modern masterpiece of American autobiography. Norman Mailer called it "unique, an autobiography with the intimate, unprotected candor of a novel."

Conroy's fiction includes the short-story collection "Midair" and the novel "Body and Soul," which is informed by Conroy's work for many years as a professional jazz pianist. Vanity Fair calls "Body and Soul" "old fashioned, beautifully written and hypnotically readable."

His stories and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, the Partisan Review and many other periodicals.