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Lydia Davis, Photo by Theo Cote
Lydia Davis


NYS Writers Institute, March 4, 2010
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Lydia Davis, “one of the best writers in America” (“O Magazine”) and 2003 MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, will read from her newly published “The Collected Stories” (2009) on Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the same location.  The events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

Lydia Davis, leading short story author and New York State Writers Institute Fellow 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”). She is renowned for perfecting the craft of the “extremely short short story.”

Her newest book is “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). Appearing to rave reviews in the mainstream press, the book is being described as a “surprise bestseller” by its publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux.

The Collected Stories

In a “New Yorker” review, 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. I suspect that [the book] will in time be seen as one of the great, strange American literary contributions, distinct and crookedly personal, like the work of Flannery O’Connor, or Donald Barthelme, or J. F. Powers.”

Davis received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award 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.”

A Chevalier 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” (2003), 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.”

A member of the English Department faculty at the University at Albany, Davis is a Writing Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.