June 23, 1961|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Occupation||short story writer, novelist, essayist, professor|
|Literary movement||Minimalism, Gay Literature|
|Notable work(s)||Family Dancing, The Lost Language of Cranes, While England Sleeps|
|Notable award(s)||finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award
David Leavitt (born June 23, 1961) is an American writer of novels, short stories, and non-fiction.
His published fiction includes the short-story collections Family Dancing (finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award), A Place I've Never Been, Arkansas and The Marble Quilt, as well as the novels The Lost Language of Cranes, Equal Affections, While England Sleeps (finalist for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize), The Page Turner, Martin Bauman, The Body of Jonah Boyd and The Indian Clerk (finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and shortlisted for the IMPAQ Dublin Award). Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work.
In 1993, Leavitt was sued over the publication of his novel While England Sleeps by the English poet Stephen Spender. Spender accused Leavitt of using elements of Spender's memoir World Within World in the novel, and brought suit against Leavitt for copyright infringement. Viking-Penguin, Leavitt's publisher at the time, withdrew the book. In 1995, Houghton Mifflin published a revised version of While England Sleeps with a preface by the author addressing the novel's controversy.
Some critics have since noted Leavitt's career has never recovered from the plagiarism charge. However, In "Courage in the Telling: The Critical Rise and Fall of David Leavitt," Drew Patrick Shannon argues that the critical backlash that accompanied the Spender incident "allowed [critics] to reinforce the boundaries between gay and mainstream literature that Leavitt had previously crossed". Subsequent reviews of Leavitt's work were more favorable.
The Spender episode provided Leavitt with the basis for his novella "The Term-Paper Artist".
Two of Leavitt's novels have been filmed: The Lost Language of Cranes was directed by Nigel Finch and The Page Turner (released under the title Food of Love) was directed by Ventura Pons. The rights to a third, The Indian Clerk, have been optioned by Scott Rudin.
- Family Dancing (1984)
- A Place I've Never Been (1990)
- Arkansas (1997)
- The Marble Quilt (2001)
- The Lost Language of Cranes (1986)
- Equal Affections (1989)
- While England Sleeps (1993; revised and reissued 1995)
- The Page Turner (1998)
- Martin Bauman (2000)
- The Body of Jonah Boyd (2004)
- The Indian Clerk (2007)
- Two Hotel Francforts (forthcoming 2013)
- Florence, A Delicate Case (2003)
- The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer (2005)
Co-Authored and Edited Collections
- The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories (1993) (editor, with Mark Mitchell)
- Italian Pleasures (1996) (with Mark Mitchell)
- Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: The Hidden Tradition of Homosexual Literature in English from 1748 to 1914 (1997) (editor, with Mark Mitchell)
- In Maremma: Life and a House in Southern Tuscany (2001) (with Mark Mitchell)
- Lawson, Don. "Leavitt, David". Retrieved 2/3/2013.
- Spender, Stephen. "My Life is Mine: Not David Leavitt's". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 2/3/13.
- Shannon, Drew Patrick (October 2001). "Courage in the Telling: The Critical Rise and Fall of David Leavitt". International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 6 (4): 305. doi:10.1023/A:1012221326219.
- Taylor, DJ. "Adding up to a life". Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Freudenberger, Nell. "Lust for Numbers". Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Bleeth, Kenneth; Julie Rivkin (October 2001). "The 'Imitation David': Plagiarism, Collaboration and the Making of a Gay Literary Tradition in David Leavitt's "The Term-Paper Artist". PMLA. 5 116.
- David Leavitt's personal website
- David Leavitt's website at the University of Florida
- BBC Radio 4 Interview about The Body of Jonah Boyd
- Econoculture Interview, February 2 2006 by Paul Morton
- Recorded keystrokes of Leavitt writing a poem on surprise topic with 15 minute time limit
- Website for Subtropics Magazine
- Interview with Identity Theory