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Roland Merullo was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1953, and brought up in Revere, MA, a working-class Italian American community five miles from downtown Boston. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH, in 1971, and Brown University in 1975, where he also earned a Master's in Russian Language and Literature the following year. At various points in his life, he has worked in a parking garage, worked for the United States Information Agency in the former Soviet Union, served in the Peace Corps in Micronesia, worked as a carpenter, and taught creative writing and literature at Bennington and Amherst Colleges.

Merullo has published nine novels, including Fidel's Last Days (December 2008), Golfing with God (2005), A Little Love Story (2005), and A Russian Requiem (1993). His 2003 In Revere, In Those Days was a Booklist Editors' Choice and a Maria Thomas Award winner, and his 2000 Revere Beach Boulevard was finalist for the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Prize. Breakfast with Buddha (2007) was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award and American Savior (2008) won the Honor Award in fiction from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, while Leaving Losapas (1991) is currently optioned for film rights by John Turturro.

Merullo's nonfiction writing includes Revere Beach Elegy, a memoir that won the 2000 Massachusetts Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the travel book The Italian Summer, published in 2009 by Simon and Schuster. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Newsweek, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine, Boston Magazine, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Travel and Leisure Golf, LINKS, GOLF Magazine, Forbes FYI, AGNI, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His writing has been reviewed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Dallas Morning News, Newsday, People Magazine, O Magazine, and by dozens of other papers, magazines, internet sites and radio and TV stations. His books have been translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean.

Merullo has been a writer in Residence at North Shore Community College and Miami Dade Colleges. He has given hundreds of talks and speeches at colleges, conferences, libraries and civic organizations, including at Brown University, Harvard University Continuing Ed, the University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, Phillips Exeter Academy, Bennington College, Wheelock College, Eckerd College, University of Miami, Williams College, Salem State College, University of Nebraska, Deerfield Academy, Williston Academy, and Lesley College, as well as participating in the Sweetser Lecture Series.

He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.