Chang to head writing program

From Associated Press

Lan Samantha Chang, a Harvard University professor and award-winning fiction author who specializes in stories of Chinese Americans, has been named director of the nation’s most prestigious writing program, the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop.

A student at Iowa in the 1990s and later a teacher there, Chang succeeds Frank Conroy, the longtime director who announced last summer that he was retiring and died of cancer last week, at 69. Chang, a lecturer in creative writing at Harvard, will begin next January.

The 40-year-old Chang is just the fifth director overall, the first Asian American and the first woman director in the program’s nearly 70-year history. She will take over a program where alumni include Flannery O’Connor and John Irving and where Pulitzer Prize winners James Alan McPherson and Marilynne Robinson are instructors.

Chang is a native of Appleton, Wis. Her parents emigrated from China after World War II. She majored in East Asian studies at Yale University and received a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard before studying at Iowa, where she received a master’s in 1993. Her books include “Hunger: A Novella and Stories” and the novel “Inheritance.”