The first public interview with Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 Prize, which was awarded in London on 22 May. Previous winners have been Ismail Kadare, Chinua Achebe, Alice Munro and Philip Roth.
Lydia Davis is an American writer who was born in Massachusetts in 1947 and is now a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, the capital of New York State. She is best known for two contrasting accomplishments: translating from the French, to great acclaim, Marcel Proust’s complex Du Côté de Chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and writing short stories, a number of them among the shortest stories ever written. Much of her fiction may be viewed under the heading of philosophy, poetry or short story, and even her longer creations may be as succinct as two or three pages. She has been described by the critic James Wood in his latest collection, The Fun Stuff and Other Essays, as ‘a tempestuous Thomas Bernhard’. Most of all, as Craig Morgan Teicher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in 2009, the year that Davis’s Collected Stories appeared as a single volume: ‘She is the master of a literary form largely of her own invention.’