Friday, May 24, 2013

Short Is Big for Local Writer

Paul Grondahl writes about Lydia Davis in the Times Union, with statements from Writers Institute
director Don Faulkner, and fellow UAlbany faculty member Lynne Tillman:

"She is a unique fiction writer who writes very short stories that are highly reflective, kind of ironic and sometimes comical. They play with the very concept of what storytelling is," said Donald Faulkner, director of the New York State Writers Institute at UAlbany.

"She is an excellent editor, great teacher and sympathetic reader who has helped a lot of young writers," Faulkner said. "She's not a prima donna on any level."

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The Short, Short Stories of Lydia Davis

The New York Times blog discusses the shortness of Lydia Davis's short stories following the announcement of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize:

Lydia will teach another multiple-week Community Writers Workshop in Fall 2013 (free and open to the public on a competitive basis).

More about her here:

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lydia Davis Will Teach Here Again in the Fall of 2013!

Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, will teach a free Community
Writers Workshop at the NYS Writers Institute in the fall of 2013! The workshop is open to the general public on a competitive basis.

Previous winners of the prize have included Philip Roth, Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe and Ismail Kadare.

Here's some video of Lydia from a 2010 talk at the Institute:

More on Lydia and her prize:

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Sweet Picture of Lydia Davis in the Los Angeles Times

The LA Times has a nice picture of the NYS Writers Institute's Lydia Davis at the moment she
learned she had won the Man Booker International Prize.,0,2279746.story

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President Jones Congratulates Lydia Davis on Her Booker International Prize

“Lydia Davis has repeatedly challenged our notions of storytelling, and in doing so has influenced a generation of writers, both here in Albany and on the international stage,” said UAlbany President Robert J. Jones. “We’re extremely proud of her great honor and international acclaim.”
More about Lydia Davis and the 2013 Man Booker International Prize here:

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Our Own Lydia Davis Wins the Booker International Prize!

Lydia Davis, leading author of short fiction, New York State Writers Institute Writing Fellow, and a University at Albany English Department faculty member, has been awarded the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of literature. The award is given every two years to an author of any nationality in order to recognize an outstanding body of work in English or available in English translation. Sir Christopher Ricks, chair of the judges’ panel, said that Davis’s “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations…. There is a vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention.”

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.” Previous winners have included Philip Roth (2011), Alice Munro (2009), Chinua Achebe (2007) and Ismail Kadare (2005). The prize is £60,000 (approximately $91,000).

Lydia 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,” and has begun to enjoy a much wider readership. Novelist Dave Eggers has said that Davis’s work, “blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction.”

This coming fall semester at UAlbany, Davis is scheduled to teach a tuition-free writing workshop over the course of several weeks, open to the public on a competitive basis, under the sponsorship of the New York State Writers Institute. Davis has taught community writing workshops for the Institute on five previous occasions (2005-2009). She first visited UAlbany in 2000 as a guest of the Institute’s Visiting Writers Series. During that visit, Institute Director Donald Faulkner, among others, suggested she apply for a teaching position in the English Department. She joined the faculty and became an Institute Writing Fellow in 2002. Faulkner commented, “We are very proud to count Lydia Davis among our Fellows. She is a great talent, an excellent teacher, and a wonderful colleague. She richly deserves this award.”

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.

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 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, Flaubert, Foucault and Blanchot. 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.” Her 2010 translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary also received high praise in major publications throughout the world.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Honoring a Member of Our Audience

We'd like to take a moment to honor the memory of a "regular" at our Visiting Writers Series events,
one who once told us in passing that he would put up posters of some of our visitors in his garage.

From the Times Union:


Richard "Dick" Patrick, Albany's first city planner and an intimate of Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd, who brought a quirky sense of humor and spirit of play to his wide-ranging interests, died Saturday at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter's Hospital.

He had undergone three heart bypass surgeries and had a brief battle with cancer. He was 76.

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