Lydia Davis at Kelly Writers House in 2017
|Born||July 15, 1947|
Northampton, Massachusetts, US
|Alma mater||Barnard College|
|Genre||Short story, novel, essay|
|Spouses||Paul Auster (1974–1977; divorced)|
|Relatives||Robert Gorham Davis (father)|
Hope Hale Davis (mother)
Lydia Davis (born July 15, 1947) is an American writer noted for literary works of extreme brevity (commonly called "flash fiction"). Davis is also a short story writer, novelist, essayist, and translator from French and other languages, and has produced several new translations of French literary classics, including Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
Early life and education
Davis was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on July 15, 1947. She is the daughter of Robert Gorham Davis, a critic and professor of English, and Hope Hale Davis, a short-story writer, teacher, and memoirist. Davis initially studied music—first piano, then violin—which was her first love. On becoming a writer, Davis has said, "I was probably always headed to being a writer, even though that wasn't my first love. I guess I must have always wanted to write in some part of me or I wouldn't have done it." She studied at Barnard College, where she mostly wrote poetry.
In 1974 Davis married Paul Auster, with whom she had a son named Daniel. Auster and Davis later divorced and Davis is now married to the artist Alan Cote, with whom she has another son, Theo Cote. She is a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, SUNY, and was a Lillian Vernon Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University in 2012.
Davis has published six collections of fiction, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her most recent collections were Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the National Book Award published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007, and Can't and Won't (2013). The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (2009) contains all her fiction up to 2008.
Reception and influence
Davis has been described as "the master of a literary form largely of her own invention." Many of her fictions are only one or two sentences. Davis has compared these fictions to skyscrapers in the sense that they are surrounded by an imposing blank expanse. Michael LaPointe writing in the LA Review of Books goes so far as to say while "Lydia Davis did not invent flash fiction, ... she is so far and away its most eminent contemporary practitioner". Her "distinctive voice has never been easy to fit into conventional categories", writes Kassia Boddy in the Columbia Companion to the 21st Century Short Story. Boddy writes: "Davis's parables are most successful when they examine the problems of communication between men and women, and the strategies each uses to interpret the other’s words and actions."
In October 2003, Davis received a MacArthur Fellowship. She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. Davis was a distinguished speaker at the 2004 &NOW Festival at the University of Notre Dame.
Davis was announced as the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize on 22 May 2013. The official announcement of Davis' award on the Man Booker Prize website described her work as having "the brevity and precision of poetry". The judging panel chair Christopher Ricks commented that "[t]here is vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention. Vigilance as how to realise things down to the very word or syllable; vigilance as to everybody's impure motives and illusions of feeling." Davis won £60,000 as part of the biennial award.
She is widely considered "one of the most original minds in American fiction today."
- 1986 PEN/Hemingway Award finalist, for Break It Down
- 1988 Whiting Award for Fiction
- "St. Martin," a short story that first appeared in Grand Street, was included in The Best American Short Stories 1997.
- 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship
- 1998 Lannan Literary Award for Fiction
- 1999 Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for fiction and translation.
- "Betrayal," a short-short story that first appeared in Hambone, was included in The Best American Poetry 1999
- "A Mown Lawn," a short-short-story that first appeared in McSweeney's, was included in The Best American Poetry 2001
- 2003 MacArthur Fellows Program
- 2007 National Book Award Fiction finalist, for Varieties of Disturbance: Stories
- "Men," a short-short story that first appeared in 32 Poems, was included in The Best American Poetry 2008
- 2013 American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal
- 2013 Philolexian Society Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement
- 2013 Man Booker International Prize
- The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories, Living Hand, 1976
- Sketches for a Life of Wassilly. Station Hill Press. 1981. ISBN 978-0-930794-45-3.
- Story and Other Stories. The Figures. 1985. ISBN 978-0-935724-17-2.
- Break It Down. Farrar Straus & Giroux. 1986. ISBN 0-374-11653-9.
- The End of the Story. Farrar Straus & Giroux. 1994. ISBN 978-0-374-14831-7. (novel)
- Almost No Memory. Farrar Straus & Giroux. 1997. ISBN 978-0-374-10281-4.
- Samuel Johnson Is Indignant. McSweeney's. 2001. ISBN 978-0-9703355-9-3.
- Varieties of Disturbance. Farrar Straus & Giroux. May 15, 2007. ISBN 978-0-374-28173-1.
- Proust, Blanchot, and a Woman in Red. Center for Writers and Translators. 2007. ISBN 9780955296352.
- The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 2009. ISBN 978-0-374-27060-5.
- The Cows. Sarabande Books. 2011. ISBN 9781932511932.
- Lydia Davis: Documenta Series 078. Hatje Cantz. 2012. ISBN 9783775729277
- Can't and Won't: Stories. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2014. ISBN 9780374118587.
- Essays One. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2019. ISBN 9780374148850.
- Bill Henderson, ed. (1989). The Pushcart prize: best of the small presses. Pushcart Press. ISBN 978-0-916366-58-2.
- E. Annie Proulx, Katrina Kenison, ed. (1997). "St. Martin". The Best American Short Stories 1997. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-79866-9.
- Robert Hass, David Lehman, eds. (2001). "A Mown Lawn". The Best American Poetry 2001. Simon and Schuster. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-7432-0384-5.
Lydia Davis.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- Charles Wright, David Lehman, eds. (2008). "Men". The Best American Poetry 2008. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-9975-6.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- Jean Chesneaux, Françoise Le Barbier, Marie-Claire Bergère (1977). China from the 1911 Revolution to Liberation. Translators Paul Auster and Lydia Davis. Harvester Press.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Georges Simenon (1979). Aboard the Aquitaine (Simenon African Trio). Translators Paul Auster and Lydia Davis. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-103955-0.
- Maurice Blanchot (1981). P. Adams Sitney (ed.). The Gaze of Orpheus, and Other Literary Essays. Translator Lydia Davis. Station Hill Press. ISBN 978-0930794378.
- Françoise Giroud (1986). Marie Curie: A Life. Translator Lydia Davis. Holmes & Meier. ISBN 0841909776.
- Pierre Jean Jouve (1996). The Desert World. Translator Lydia Davis. Marlboro Press. ISBN 978-0810160187.
- Pierre Jean Jouve (1997). Hecate: The Adventure of Catherine Crachat: I. Translator Lydia Davis. Marlboro Press. ISBN 978-0810160385.
- Michel Leiris (1997). The Rules of the Game: Scratches. Translator Lydia Davis. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801854865.
- Marcel Proust (2004). Lydia Davis, Christopher Prendergast (eds.). Swann's Way. Translator Lydia Davis. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-243796-4.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- Vivant Denon (2009). Peter Brooks (ed.). No Tomorrow. Translator Lydia Davis. New York Review of Books. ISBN 978-1-59017-326-8.
- Gustave Flaubert (2010). Lydia Davis (ed.). Madame Bovary. Translator Lydia Davis. Viking Adult. ISBN 978-0-670-02207-6.
- Alfred Ollivant. (2014). Bob, Son of Battle: The Last Gray Dog of Kenmuir. Translator Lydia Davis. New York Review Children's Collection. ISBN 9781590177297
- A.L. Snijders. (2016) Grasses and Trees. Translator Lydia Davis. AFDH. ISBN 9789072603586
- Crum, Maddie (Jun 13, 2014). "Read 15 Amazing Works Of Fiction In Less Than 30 Minutes". Retrieved Oct 21, 2019 – via Huff Post.
- Leslie, Nathan. "That 'V' Word.". Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. Ed. Masih, Tara L. Brookline, MA, USA: Rose Metal Press, 2009, 8-9; 11-14.
- LaPointe, Michael. "The Book Gets Fatter: Lydia Davis's "Can't and Won't"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved Oct 21, 2019.
- "Internationales literaturfestival Berlin – Lydia Davis". Internationales literaturfestival Berlin. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Knight, Christopher J. (1999). "An Interview with Lydia Davis". Contemporary Literature. 40 (4): 525–551. doi:10.2307/1208793. JSTOR 1208793.
- "Lydia Davis: Storytelling, a Strange Impulse". 032c. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
- 032c.com. "LYDIA DAVIS: Storytelling, a Strange Impulse". Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- Sherwin, Adam (2013-05-23). "World's most concise short story writer Lydia Davis wins Booker International Prize 2013". Independent. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "Lydia Davis is Lillian Vernon Distinguished Writer-in-Residence". New York University. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Teicher, Craig Morgan (October 11, 2009). "Collected Stories of Lydia Davis". The Plain Dealer. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
- 032c.com. "LYDIA DAVIS: Storytelling, a Strange Impulse". Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- Boddy, Kasia (2000-01-01). The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story. Columbia University Press. pp. 219–223. doi:10.7312/gelf11098.42. JSTOR 10.7312/gelf11098.42.
- "Interview with LYDIA DAVIS". The Believer. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter D" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
- "&Now Program Schedule". &Now 2004. University of Notre Dame. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Stock, Jon (2013-05-22). "Man Booker International Prize 2013: Lydia Davis wins". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
- "Lydia Davis wins the Man Booker International Prize 2013". Man Brooker Prize. 2013-05-22. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
- "Man Booker International prize goes to Lydia Davis". BBC News. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Goodyear, Dana (Mar 10, 2014). "Long Story Short". Retrieved Oct 21, 2019 – via www.newyorker.com.
- Johnston, Bret Anthony. "2007 National Book Award Fiction Finalist Interview With Lydia Davis". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "The American Academy of Arts and Letters Announces 2013 Literature Award Winners and Inaugural E. B. White Award". American Academy of Arts and Letters. 2013-03-13. Archived from the original on 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
- Goodyear, Dana (March 17, 2014). "Long story short : Lydia Davis's radical fiction". Life and Letters. The New Yorker. 90 (4): 24–30.
- Finding aid to Lydia Davis papers at Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
- "Lydia Davis, Art of Fiction No. 227". The Paris Review (Interview) (212). Interviewed by Andrea Aguilar and Johanne Fronth-Nygren. Spring 2015.
- "Almost No Memory". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. September 1998.
- "Samuel Johnson Is Indignant". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. July 2002.
- "Varieties of Disturbance". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. June 2007.
- "Can't and Won't". Bookworm (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt. KCRW. June 2014.
- "Negative Emotions." Coffin Factory (short story)
- The Believer interview with Sarah Manguso
- Samuel Johnson Is Indignant – TMO Meets Lydia Davis
- BOMB interview with Francine Prose
- Gigantic interview with James Yeh
- "Q&A with Lydia Davis", The Boston Globe, Kate Bolick, April 29, 2007
- "2007 National Book Award Fiction Finalist Interview With Lydia Davis", National Book Foundation
- "Structure Is Structure", Poetry Foundation
- "A Conversation with Lydia Davis", Web Del Sol
- Audio-files @ PENNsound listen to Lydia Davis read from her work
- Author Page at Internationales Literatufestival Berlin Davis was a Guest of the ILB ( Internationales Literatufestival Berlin / Germany ) in 2001
- "Lydia Davis", Penn Sound
- Lydia Davis: Reading 'Goodbye Louise' Video by Louisiana Channel
- Profile at The Whiting Foundation
- MacArthur Foundation
- SUNY Albany
- Lannan Foundation
- Kelly House Writers
- New Yorker - Long Story Short
- MacMillan Publishers
- Penguin Random House