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Release: Dec. 1, 2000

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Christopher Merrill can be reached at 319-335-2609. His e-mail address is <>.)

Merrill, director of IWP at UI, becomes regular Public Radio International commentator

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, has become a regular commentator on international literature for Public Radio International (PRI). Merrill will be heard monthly on "The World," a PRI co-production of WGBH in Boston and the BBC.

The commentaries, recorded at UI stations WSUI/KSUI, will air on 120 stations, including every major radio market in the United States.

In each of his commentary segments, Merrill will identify and discuss two or three books of vital interest from around the world. He will also occasionally file additional features prompted by international literary news. His first special feature will respond to the upcoming speech by Gao Xingjian, the Chinese Nobel laureate in literature.

"They were anxious to have someone address international literary issues, and what better place to start than the IWP?" explains Merrill, who discussed the Balkans on PRI during the NATO operation and has also been heard on National Public Radio. "The IWP creates an unparalleled international network of information about literature. I will be drawing on the IWP’s reserves of goodwill and the resources of the largest imaginable pool of writers around the world -- the 1,000 alumni of the IWP -- to address what I hope will be the widest variety of books."

Founded in 1967, the IWP was the first international writers residency at a university, and it remains unique in world literature. The IWP brings established writers of the world to the UI, where they become part of the lively literary community on campus. Over the years writers from 115 countries have completed residencies in the program. Merrill became director of the program and joined the UI faculty in the English department this fall.

"The World" debuted in 1996 as a radio news program devoted to international news for Americans. The broadcasts connect the international stories of the day to American interests.

To learn more about the radio program, visit <> on the World Wide Web. The site includes links to download features from "The World" broadcasts.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.