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University of Iowa News Release

June 24, 2005

IWP Veteran Orhan Pamuk Wins Prestigious German Peace Prize

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, a veteran of the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP), has been selected to receive the prestigious Peace Prize awarded by the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers.

The award, which includes a cash prize of 25,000 Euros, will be presented this October at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Announcing its decision, the prize jury praised Pamuk for a unique ability to bridge cultures. "In Orhan Pamuk, we are honouring an author who like no other writer of our time, explores the historical footprints of the West in the East and the East in the West," it said.

"He is committed to a concept of culture based on knowledge and respect for others. Pamuk has created a genre in which Europe and Islamic Turkey co-exist."

IWP Director Christopher Merrill commented, ""Orhan Pamuk is a world treasure. And his latest award is an emblem both of his extraordinary literary powers and of the largeness of his vision. He is indeed a peacemaker -- a writer whose every word deepens our understanding of the human condition."

Pamuk, who lives in Istanbul, is Turkey's best-selling author, and is known internationally for novels including "My Name is Red", "The New Life", "The White Castle" "The Black Book" and, most recently, "Snow."

He wrote part of a novel when he was in residence at the UI in the fall semester of 1985. He returned to Iowa City in 1998 to read on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, broadcast on UI radio station WSUI.

An Agency France Presse wire story noted, "Pamuk is no stranger to political controversy. Earlier this year, he angered nationalists in Turkey by publicly addressing the highly sensitive subject of the massacre of Armenians in World War I. In an interview with a Swiss newspaper, he said that '30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in Turkey.' One local official ordered the seizure and destruction of his works."

The Peace Prize, one of the highest distinctions in German literature, presented each year at the close of the book fair in Frankfurt.

In 2003 Pamuk won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, whose cash prize is second only to the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Founded in 1967, the IWP (http://www.uiowa.edu/~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, more than a thousand writers from more than 120 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."

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

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, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu