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Lydia Davis (1) (1947–)

Author of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

For other authors named Lydia Davis, see the disambiguation page.

36+ Works 4,029 Members 114 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

Lydia Davis is the author of several works of fiction. She is also a noted translator. She teaches at Bard College and lives in Port Ewen, New York. (Publisher Provided) Lydia Davis is a writer and translator. She is a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, SUNY, and was a show more Lillian Vernon Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University in 2012. Davis has published six collections of short stories, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986), a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her most recent collection was Varieties of Disturbance, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007 and a Finalist for the National Book Award. Davis' stories are acclaimed for their brevity and humor. Many are only one or two sentences. Her book Can't and Won't made the New York Times Bestseller List in 2014. She has also translated Proust, Flaubert, Blanchot, Foucault, Michel Leiris, Pierre Jean Jouve and other French writers, as well as the Dutch writer A.L. Snijders. In October 2003 Davis received a MacArthur Fellowship. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. Davis was announced as the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize on 22 May 2013. Davis won £60,000 as part of the biennial award. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Copyright by Theo Cote

Works by Lydia Davis

Can't and Won't (2014) 503 copies
The End of the Story (1994) 495 copies
Break It Down (1986) 276 copies
Almost No Memory (1997) 255 copies
Essays One (2019) 226 copies
Our Strangers (2023) 28 copies

Associated Works

Madame Bovary (1857) — Translator, some editions — 25,722 copies
Swann's Way (1913) — Translator, some editions — 10,845 copies
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories (2015) — Foreword, some editions — 1,679 copies
Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories (1984) — Contributor — 359 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1997 (1997) — Contributor — 346 copies
The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories (2004) — Contributor — 258 copies
The Best American Poetry 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 219 copies
Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story (2012) — Contributor; Introduction — 218 copies
The Best American Poetry 1999 (1999) — Contributor — 208 copies
No Tomorrow (1812) — Translator, some editions — 197 copies
Granta 68: Love Stories (1999) — Contributor — 149 copies
The Best of McSweeney's {complete} (1800) — Contributor — 138 copies
The Best American Poetry 2008 (2008) — Contributor — 134 copies
Scratches (1948) — Translator, some editions — 128 copies
The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (2008) — Contributor — 122 copies
Deep Down: The New Sensual Writing by Women (1988) — Contributor — 114 copies
Granta 115: The F Word (2011) — Contributor — 113 copies
Tocqueville: A Biography (1984) — Translator, some editions — 98 copies
Letters to His Neighbor (2013) — Translator, some editions — 98 copies
Looking at Pictures (2006) — Translator, some editions — 90 copies
The Collected Poems: A Dual-Language Edition with Parallel Text (2013) — Translator, some editions — 55 copies
Granta 147: 40th Birthday Special (2019) — Contributor — 54 copies
Extreme Fiction: Fabulists and Formalists (2003) — Contributor — 51 copies
McSweeney's Issue 50 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2017) — Contributor — 51 copies
Bestial Noise: The Tin House Fiction Reader (2003) — Contributor — 49 copies
The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story (2021) — Contributor — 44 copies
Granta 151: Membranes (2020) — Contributor — 40 copies
Electric Literature No. 2 (2009) — Contributor — 6 copies
Black Clock 21 (2016) — Contributor — 4 copies
Poetry Magazine Vol. 201 No. 5, February 2013 (2012) — Contributor — 4 copies
Arabs & Israelis : a dialogue (1975) — Translator, some editions — 3 copies
Sulfur 6 — Contributor — 2 copies
Crawl Out Your Window #9 & 10 — Contributor — 1 copy


1001 (141) 1001 books (149) 19th century (712) 20th century (239) adultery (308) American literature (135) anthology (403) classic (934) classic literature (133) classics (1,018) ebook (172) essays (113) fiction (4,535) Flaubert (112) France (962) French (1,233) French fiction (239) French literature (1,617) Gustave Flaubert (106) Kindle (162) literature (1,190) love (104) Marcel Proust (227) marriage (119) modernism (123) novel (994) Novela (136) own (177) poetry (292) read (370) realism (148) Roman (233) romance (181) short stories (992) stories (116) suicide (105) to-read (2,168) translation (236) unread (279) women (98)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Davis, Lydia
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
Places of residence
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
East Nassau, New York, USA
Port Ewen, New Jersey, USA
New York, New York, USA
Barnard College
professor (Creative Writing ∙ Bard College)
short story writer
book reviewer
Cote, Alan (husband)
Auster, Paul (former husband)
Auster, Daniel (son)
Cote, Theo (son)
Bard College
State University of New York, Albany
Awards and honors
Lannan Literary Award ( [1998])
Whiting Writers' Award (1988)
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (Fiction Translation)
French-American Foundation Translation Award (1993)
Guggenheim Fellowship
Fund for Poetry Award (1992) (show all 11)
Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Ingram Merrill Foundation grant for fiction
MacArthur Fellowship (2003)
Man Booker International Prize (2013)
Paris Review Hadada Award (2016)
Short biography
Lydia Davis, a professor of Creative Writing, has published several volumes of short stories and a novel, The End of the Story (1995). She has also translated classic works of French literature and philosophy, including Swann's Way by Marcel Proust and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. She has won many major American writing awards and her work is included in several anthologies. In 1999, she was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government for her translations. She was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award and in 2013 won the Man Booker International Prize.



We all love her for good reason
Overgaard | 1 other review | Nov 20, 2023 |
“...In any case I would rather suffer a slight discomfort than be complicit in the felling of old-growth trees in Canadian boreal forests merely in order to enjoy virgin toilet paper that is softer and tears more neatly.”

I had not read Lydia Davis before but being a fan of short fiction, I wanted to give her a try. Her style is definitely not for everyone- most of the stories are just a few lines but her clever observations on everyday life, have an almost hypnotic draw to them. I think very few writers could pull this off and keep the reader engaged. That said, my interest began to flag in the final 3rd of the collection but I still came away satisfied.… (more)
msf59 | 1 other review | Oct 22, 2023 |
Mixed bag, and disappointing after my delighted dive through her Essays Two: On Proust, Translation, Foreign Languages, and the City of Arles. Warning: if you have arthritis in your hands, consider an e-book version: this hefty and very fat book will not lie flat, and requires both hands to brace it open.

I loved Essays Two because I'm a Francophile and have a fascination for the challenges of translation. In this one, she gives a great deal of attention to close analysis of writers I have never heard of - her scope of reading is astoundingly broad. Between that and the dedication she expends on her daily notebooks, I don't know how she has time to write! But write she does, rigorously, stringently, with a focus on the use and meaning of every syllable. For example: since she knows that the word "dilapidated" is based on the root lapis (which means stone), she deems it inappropriate to use that adjective to describe anything but a building - so don't try to get away with an impoverished man's "dilapidated trousers." Still, you have to admire the scrupulousness.

I'm not especially attracted to tricks in writing stories: can you write a story in two sentences? A poem in a single word? A story that can be read from top to bottom... or from the last sentence to the first? She herself likes to play with these challenges, but they make me feel as though the gamesmanship overpowers - and even disrespects - the story and possibly the reader. Nevertheless, she knows what she's doing and why, so the essays about the craft of writing are worthwhile, with abundant suggestions for additional sources and writers to investigate.

I skimmed a lot, enjoyed a lot - just not as much as Essays Two. I did order Virginia Tufte's Artful Sentences because I need all the help I can get with how to use rhythms and accents and word choice and structure to make a sentence sing. That recommendation alone made this worth reading.
… (more)
JulieStielstra | 3 other reviews | Mar 19, 2023 |
Really loved this collection, more so than the first volume. I only know one language, and have always felt impoverished and ashamed of that. But I do love to read about other languages, and language in general, and Lydia Davis is a great writer and translator. I loved learning about how she translates, the problems she faced, and the funny projects she chose for herself.

In the midst of reading this book I saw a really distressing bit of news about Davis’s son. A terrible story, I feel very sad for her and her family.… (more)
steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |



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Marguerite Kirmse Illustrator
Aki Salmela Translator
Charlotte Strick Cover designer
Peter Bergsma Translator
Nico Groen Translator


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