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Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis, acclaimed American fiction writer and translator, was born in Northampton in 1947.  Davis is famous in literary circles for her extremely brief and brilliantly inventive short stories. In fall of 2003, she received one of 25 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awards. In granting the award, the MacArthur Foundation praised Davis’s work for showing “how language itself can entertain, how all that 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.” In 2013 she was the winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Davis is also a celebrated translator of French literature into English. The French government named her a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her fiction and her distinguished translations of works by Marcel Proust, Maurice Blanchot, Gustave Flaubert, and others. 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. From 1974 to 1978 Davis was married to author Paul Auster, with whom she has a son. Davis is currently married to painter Alan Cote, with whom she has a son. She is a professor of creative writing at University at Albany, SUNY. Davis is considered highly influential by a generation of writers including Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, and Dave Eggers, who once wrote that she “blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction.”

Photo © Theo Cote

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