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University of Iowa News Release

July 31, 2003

Orhan Pamuk, UI International Writing Program Veteran, Wins Lucrative International Literary Award

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, a veteran of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), is the 2003 recipient of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's most lucrative prize for a single work of fiction published in English. The award of E100,000 (approximately $115,000) honored the novel "My Name is Red," translated into English by Erdag Goeknar.

Among prizes honoring literature, only the Nobel Prize entails a larger cash award than the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

"Pamuk is one of the most dazzling writers at work in the world today - a
novelist whose powers of invention seem infinite," said Christopher Merrill, director of the IWP. "His work is at once wise and surprising, as befits someone frequently mentioned for the Nobel Prize."

"My Name is Red," which is set in Istanbul in the late 1590s during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat III, is Pamuk's most ambitious vehicle for exploring the tensions between East and West.

The award's panel of international judges described the novel as a work of "intense beauty" that has a "breathlessly urgent perspective ... It is a rare tour de force of literary imagination and philosophical speculation."

Pamuk, who wrote part of a novel while he was in residence at the UI for the fall semester of 1985, is the author of seven novels, winners of several Turkish and international literary awards. He is Turkey's best-selling author - "My Name is Red" had the largest first print run in Turkish publishing history - and his work has been translated into 26 languages.

He returned to Iowa City in 1998 to read on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, broadcast on UI radio station WSUI.

The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award ( is administered by the Dublin City Council's library department, which accepted nominations from 150 public libraries in 40 countries. Pamuk's novel was nominated by libraries in the United States, Germany and Switzerland.

The award was established in 1996 when IMPAC (Improved Management Profitability and Control), a Connecticut-based corporation whose European headquarters are based in the Irish capital, committed E2.5 million to endow the prize fund.

This year's finalists included American writers Jonathan Franzen and UI Writers' Workshop graduate Ann Patchett, Ireland's John McGahern, Sweden's Per Olov Enquist and Canada's Dennis Bock.

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, nearly a thousand writers from more than 115 countries have completed extended residencies in the program. Most IWP residency groups are a mix of poets, fiction writers, screenwriters, playwrights, journalists, essayists and critics.

The importance of the IWP to international understanding was recognized as early as 1976, when former senator, diplomat and UN Ambassador Averrill Harriman nominated founders Paul and Hualing Nieh Engle for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 the program was honored with the Governor's Award for distinguished service to the State of Iowa.

The IWP is staffed and housed by the University of Iowa. IWP writers have been financed by the United States State Department, through bilateral agreements with numerous countries; by grants given by cultural institutions and governments abroad; and by private funds that are donated by a variety of American corporations, foundations and individuals.

IWP director, poet and essayist Christopher Merrill is a faculty member in the UI English department, and the international literature commentator for the syndicated radio program "The World."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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