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Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis


NYS Writers Institute, April 16, 2014
8:00 p.m. Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Award Ceremony |
Biotech Auditorium, Center for Biotechnolog and Interdisciplinary Studies,
Rensslaer (RPI), Troy

Lydia Davis, “one of the best writers in America” (O. Magazine) and winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, will speak Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy. The event is free and open to the public, and is cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with Rensselaer’s Vollmer W. Fries Lecture and 73rd Annual McKinney Writing Contest and Reading.

Lydia Davis, leading short story author, received the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of literature. The £60,000  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. Writing in the Guardian (UK) in 2009, Hephzibah Anderson declared that the Booker International Prize “is fast becoming the more significant award, appearing an ever more competent alternative to the Nobel.”

Davis 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 in literary circles for perfecting the craft of the “extremely short short story.” Novelist Dave Eggers has said that Davis’s work, “blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction.”
Her newest collection is Can’t and Won’t (2014). Masterpieces in miniature, the stories feature complaint letters, reflections on dreams, and small dilemmas. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Davis continues to hone her subtle and distinctive brand of storytelling. These poems, vignettes, thoughts, observations, and stories defy clear categorization; each one is an independent whole, but read together they strike a fine rhythm…. Davis’s bulletproof prose sends each story shooting off the page.”

Her previous books include The Collected Stories (2009), Varieties of Disturbance (2007), Samuel Johnson is Indignant (2001), Almost No Memory (1997) and Break it Down (1986). In a New Yorker review of The Collected Stories, James Wood praised Davis for “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.”

Davis received a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation 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.”

For directions see: http://www.rpi.edu/tour/index.html

2013 Man Booker Internationl Prize winner

Previous Visits:
March 4, 2010

October 1, 2013

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