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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Aug. 26, 2005

Sept. 2 Reading Begins Public Activities Of 2005 IWP At UI

The public activities of the International Writing Program's (IWP) 2005 residencies will begin with a free bi-lingual reading by Chinese fiction writer Liu Heng at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2 in Shambaugh House at the corner of Clinton and Fairchild streets on the University of Iowa campus.

Born in 1954 in Beijing, Liu Heng became a professional writer in the 1970s when he had become well acquainted with the lives of the peasants, factory workers and soldiers who became the subjects of his stories.

His fictional works are mostly novellas, the most famous of which captured the national Prize for Best Novelettes in 1987 and was the basis of the popular motion picture "Ju Dou."

He is also the author of the novel "Hei de xue" (Black Snow) in 1991, which was also adapted for the screen. His latest work, which has already spawned a television series, is a long novel "Pinzui zhang damin de xingfu shenghuo" (The Happy Life of Chatter-box Zhang Damin).

The popularity of his works comes from his understanding of the realistic details in the day-to-day life of the ordinary Chinese citizen, and from his poignant and candid depiction of society's bleaker side. In this respect, he seems to have aligned himself with the realist tradition of Balzac, Dickens, Hardy, Sinclair and Dreiser, writers who refused to idealize human existence at the expense of truth and facts.

Through the IWP 36 writers from 29 countries will be members of the UI community for the next three months. Biographies of all the writers are also accessible on the IWP site,

The IWP introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more a thousand writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including poets, fiction writers, dramatists, screenwriters and non-fiction writers.

The IWP, which functions as a United Nations of writers, stresses the common interests of writers everywhere, in an atmosphere that puts political differences into perspective. For writers who live under repressive regimes, the IWP has provided an unprecedented opportunity to write, speak and interact freely.

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.

Nearly four decades of residencies have enabled the IWP to accumulate an unparalleled collection of resources on international literature, which have been organized in a library in the Shambaugh House. The IWP remains in contact with former participants, creating an unprecedented literary and intellectual network without national boundaries.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,