Feature

Author of the week: Lydia Davis

The American writer's work was recently honored when she became the fifth winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

Long-windedness has never been a problem for Lydia Davis, said John Wilson in BBC.co.uk. The American writer, whose four-decade body of work was recently honored when she became the fifth winner of the Man Booker International Prize, is renowned for her ability to craft meaningful, provocative stories that are also extremely short—sometimes only one sentence long. “I don’t actually call them short stories because to me that’s a more classical genre, like Katherine Mansfield and Chekhov,” says Davis, 65. “So I just call them stories. But I admit that some of them verge on poems or just meditative sayings.” While Davis has produced longer-form works, including the 1995 novel The End of the Story, she enjoys the sense of intrigue she can create with just a handful of words. “You’re taken to another place very suddenly, and sort of dropped there and left to fend for yourself,” she says.

Davis is currently working on a new story collection to be published next year, but she also has her eye on other outlets, said Vanessa Thorpe in The Guardian (U.K.). Recently, her publisher suggested that she start micro-blogging, and she thinks she might go for it. “I do see an interest in writing for Twitter,” says Davis. “The very quick form is appealing because of the pace of life.” Her writing, with its short, potent words and air of spontaneity, is arguably quite tweet-friendly already. “I don’t pare down much,” she says. “Very occasionally, I’ll write a longer story and whittle it down.” Most of the time, however, “it just comes out the length that it wants to be.”

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