James Lasdun

Lydia Davis -Fall 2015


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Community Writers Workshop

Reaching out - Fall 2015
Each semester the Writers Institute sponsors residencies of varying lengths by authors who have distinguished themselves both for their writing and their teaching. In tandem with these residencies free writing workshops are offered on a competitive basis to members of the community.

Fiction Master Class Workshop Offered by
Man Booker International Prize Winner Lydia Davis

New York State Writers Institute Distinguished Writer-in-Residence and Man Booker International Prize Winner Lydia Davis will conduct a Fiction Master Class Workshop during the fall 2015 semester. The focus will be on detailed discussion of students’ work, but there may also be assigned exercises and/or readings from published novels or short stories to broaden the discussion of topics such as character, plot, style, and form. The workshop is intended for advanced writers — writers who have a publication record in literary journals and/or book form. It will be an intensive five-session workshop.

The Fiction Master Class Workshop is scheduled for Tuesday evenings (October 6, 13, 20, 27, November 3) offered free of charge for no credit, and will be limited to ten writers made up of both non-University writers and UAlbany students who are enrolled in the English Department’s Masters or Doctoral programs. To be considered, submit manuscripts to the Writers Institute according to the guidelines listed below.

Guidelines for Fiction Master Class Workshop

  1. All manuscripts must be typewritten and double-spaced.

  2. All submissions must include a separate cover sheet with name, address, work and home telephone numbers, e-mail address, and the title of your submission. Your name should NOT appear on the pages of your submission itself.

  3. Please submit no more than 15 pages of fiction, which can consist of a selection of short-short stories, a traditional narrative short story, or an excerpt from a novel. Clearly indicate the title of each piece. IMPORTANT: please include a brief (minimum 200 words) cover letter describing both your interest in writing and the project you would like to work on in the workshop. In addition, list where your work has been published. To insure a blind selection process, do not put your name on the pages of your submission.

  4. Be sure to keep a copy of your work as your manuscript will not be returned to you.

  5. Manuscripts delivered in person will be accepted until 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Mailed manuscripts must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Faxes or e-mails will not be accepted. Auditing of the class is not allowed

  6. Notification of acceptance will be by Friday, September 25th. Please do not call regarding the status of your manuscript. We regret that neither Ms. Davis nor the Institute can comment on manuscripts by writers not selected.

    Mail manuscripts to: Davis Fiction Master Class Writing Workshop
    New York State Writers Institute
    , University at Albany, SL 320
    1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY  12222

Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis, fiction writer and translator, has received wide acclaim for her extremely brief and brilliantly inventive short stories. She has been called “one of the quiet giants…of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review), “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon), and “one of the best writers in America” (O Magazine).

the spring of 2013 Davis received the Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of literature. The award is given every two years to authors of any nationality in order to recognize an outstanding body of work in English or available in English translation. Sir Christopher Ricks, chair of the judges’ panel, said that Davis’s “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations….There is a vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention.”

Her newest book, which earned rave reviews, is Can’t and Won’t (2014).She is also the author of The Collected Stories (2009), a compilation of stories from four previously published volumes including Varieties of Disturbance (2007), Samuel Johnson is Indignant (2001), Almost No Memory (1997) and Break it Down (1986). Her novel, The End of the Story, was published in 1995. In a New Yorker review of her Collected Stories, James Wood said, “Finally, one can read a large portion of Davis’s work, spanning three decades and more than seven hundred pages, and a grand cumulative achievement comes into view— a body of work probably unique in American writing, in its combination of lucidity, aphoristic brevity, formal originality, sly comedy, metaphysical bleakness, philosophical pressure, and human wisdom.” Novelist Dave Eggers has said that Davis’s work “blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction.”

Davis received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003. In granting the award the Foundation praised Davis’s work for showing “how language itself can entertain, how all that what one word says, and leaves unsaid, can hold a reader’s interest….Davis grants readers a glimpse of life’s previously invisible details, revealing new sources of philosophical insights and beauty.”

Named a Chevalier and Officier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, Davis is also one of the most respected translators into English of French literary fiction by Proust and Flaubert, among others. In 2003, Davis published a new translation—the first in more than 80 years—of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, Swann’s Way, one of the most important literary works of the 20th century. The Sunday Telegraph (London) called the new translation “A triumph [that] will bring this inexhaustible artwork to new audiences throughout the English-speaking world.” Writing for the Irish Times, Frank Wynne said, “What soars in this new version is the simplicity of language and fidelity to the cambers of Proust’s prose…Davis’ translation is magnificent, precise.”

Davis first received serious critical attention for her collection of stories, Break It Down, which was selected as a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. The book’s positive critical reception helped Davis win a Whiting Writer’s Award in 1988.

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