Origins: The International Writing Program Podcast is an interview series with writers from around the world addressing the origins of their creative works, the literary and social cultures in which they write, and the art of language.

2017 Episode Schedule

January 15: Vivek Shanbhag, India
February 15: Ameena Hussein, Sri Lanka
March 15: Zhou Jianing, China
April 15: Tse Hao Guang, Singapore
May 15: Courtney Sina Meredith, New Zealand
June 15: Mariano Tenconi Blanco, Argentina
July 15: Henriikka Tavi,  Finland
August 15: Stephanos Stephanides, Cyprus
September 15: Alice Yousef, Palestinian Territories
October 15: zp (Priya) Dala, South Africa
November 15: Shenaz Patel, Mauritius
December 15: Akhil Katyal, India

January 8, 2017 | Vivek Shanbhag | 28:56

Host Christopher Merrill talks with Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag about Shanbhag’s novel, Ghachar Ghochar, and the challenges of writing a story set in a rapidly changing society. They also discuss the ways memory can be built into language and the Indian writer who had an early influence on Shanbhag’s work.

Vivek SHANBHAG (fiction writer, playwright; India), engineer by training, is the author of two plays, five short-story collections and three novels. His writing has appeared in Granta, Seminar, and Indian Literature; his most recent novel, Ghachar Ghochar, appeared in English in 2016. He writes in Kannada, and is the founder of the literary magazine Desha Kaala. His participation is made possible by the William B. Quarton Fund through the Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and the U.R. Ananthamurthy Fund for Karnataka Culture through the University of Iowa.

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February 15, 2017 | Ameena Hussein | 32:36

Host Christopher Merrill talks with Sri Lankan writer Ameena Hussein about Hussein’s novel, The Moon in the Water, and its strong female protagonist. They also discuss Hussein’s sociological research on migrant Muslim women in Los Angeles, and Hussein’s role as co-founder of the Perera Hussein Publishing House.

Ameena HUSSEIN is a writer and co-founder of the Perera Hussein Publishing House which has established itself as the frontrunner for cutting edge Sri Lankan fiction from emerging and established Sri Lankan writers. Her novel The Moon in the Water was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Award and the Dublin IMPAC Prize. Her first short story collection Fifteen was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize in 1999 and her second collection of short stories Zillij won the State Literary Prize in 2005. She has also edited three collections of children’s stories and a collection of stories for adults. Now she is currently at work on a novel.

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March 15, 2017 | Zhou Jianing | 26:54

Host Christopher Merrill talks with Chinese writer Zhou Jianing about the influence of Japanese literature on contemporary Chinese authors, her interest in urban narratives, and the disorientation that comes with writing in a rapidly growing society. She also describes translation as a peaceful language practice devoid of ego and her experience translating into Chinese the works of American authors like Flannery O’Connor, Jeanette Winterson, Alice Munro, and others.

ZHOU Jianing   周嘉宁 (fiction writer, translator; China) has published seven novels and two short story collections, as well as Chinese translations of major English-language writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Joyce Carol Oates. Her most recent novel, [In the Woods], was published in 2014. Her participation is made possible by the Paul and Hualing Engle Fund.

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April 15, 2017 | Tse Hao Guang | 27:50

Host Christopher Merrill talks with Singaporean writer Tse Hao Guang about his latest poetry collection, Deeds of Light. They also discuss the challenges of defining a literature by nation or even by language.

TSE Hao Guang  谢皓光 (poet; Singapore) is the author of hyperlinkage (2013) and Deeds of Light (2015); the latter was shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize. He co-edits the literary journal OF ZOOS, is the essays editor of poetry.sg, and is co-editing UnFree Verse, an anthology of Singaporean poetry. He participates courtesy of the Singapore National Arts Council.

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May 15, 2017 | Courtney Sina Meredith | 36:19

Host Christopher Merrill talks with New Zealand writer Courtney Sina Meredith about her latest book of stories, Tail of the Taniwha, and their underlying Pasifika Politique. They also discuss the strength Meredith receives from her family and her community, and the importance of mentorship amongst artists.

Courtney Sina MEREDITH (poet, playwright, fiction writer, musician; New Zealand) published her award-winning play Rushing Dolls in 2012; a poetry collection, Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick, appeared the same year. A new book of short stories, Tail of the Taniwha, is available in August 2016. Her writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, French and Bahasa Indonesia. Her participation is made possible by Creative New Zealand.

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June 15, 2017 | Mariano Tenconi | 32:30

Host Christopher Merrill talks with Argentinian writer Mariano Tenconi Blanco about his play, Everything would make sense if death did not exist, about the way he works with slang and voice to shape character, his admiration for Jorge Luis Borges, and the ways that he creates a procedure, or a hypothesis, around which his plays are organized.

Mariano TENCONI BLANCO (playwright, Argentina) has written nine plays and directed several plays and operas; his work had been performed in many countries. Among his awards is the first prize for New Playwright given by the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture for [Everything would make sense if death did not exist] (2015). He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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