Her Small Stories Reap an Abundant Literary Harvest

Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis

Department of English Professor Lydia Davis creates works of fiction that, by her standards, run long at two, three, or as many as nine pages. Others, however, can be as brief as a paragraph, or even a sentence. No matter the length, what is on the page acutely penetrates human feelings and transfixes readers through its originality, as underscored by Davis being awarded the fifth-ever Man Booker International Prize for fiction.

Davis, also a fellow at the New York State Writers Institute, has produced six short story collections, including Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (2009), Varieties of Disturbance (2007), and Break It Down (1986). A new collection, Can’t and Won’t, is due to be published in 2014.

She is also an accomplished translator, whose English versions of Marcel Proust’s Du Cote de Chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary helped earn her a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003.

Previous winners of the Booker Prize include U.S. novelist Philip Roth in 2011, Canadian novelist Alice Munro in 2009, late Nigerian poet and novelist Chinua Achebe in 2007, and Albanian writer Ismail Kadare in 2005.