Lydia Davis  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Lydia Davis (born 1947) is a contemporary American author and translator of French. She is the daughter of Robert Gorham Davis and Hope Hale Davis. From 1974 to 1978 Davis was married to Paul Auster, with whom she has a son, Daniel Auster. Davis is currently married to painter Alan Cote, with whom she has a son, Theo Cote. She is a professor of creative writing at University at Albany, SUNY.

She has published six collections of short stories, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986). Her most recent collection is Varieties of Disturbance, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007. Her stories are acclaimed for their brevity and humour. Many are only one or two sentences. In fact some of her stories are considered poetry or somewhere between philosophy, poetry and short story.

Davis has also translated Proust, Blanchot, Michel Foucault, Michel Leiris, and other French writers.

In October 2003 Davis received the coveted MacArthur Genius award for Writing.

Selected works

  • The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976)
  • Sketches for a Life of Wassilly (1981)
  • Story and Other Stories (1983)
  • Break It Down (1986)
  • The End of the Story (novel) (1995)
  • Almost No Memory (1997)
  • Samuel Johnson is Indignant (2002)
  • Varieties of Disturbance (2007)

Varieties of Disturbance has been nominated for the 2007 National Book Award.


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