Fiction writer Lydia Davis to speak for Writing Program Reading Series March 17 and 19

Fiction writer Lydia Davis, the Fannie Hurst Visiting Professor in Washington University’s Writing Program in Arts & Sciences, will present a craft talk, titled “A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked: Writing Outside the Mainstream,” and a reading from her work at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and Thursday, March 19, respectively, in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall on Washington University’s Danforth Campus.

The events, presented by The Writing Program, are free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing.


A short story writer, novelist and translator, Davis is the author of four collections of short fiction— “Varieties of Disturbance” (2007), a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award; “Break It Down” (1986), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; “Samuel Johnson Is Indignant” (2001); and “Almost No Memory” (1997). She also has written a novel, “The End of the Story” (1995), and several small-press and limited-edition volumes.

Hailed as an inventive writer and “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon magazine), Davis has written short stories that range in length from a sentence to 40 pages.

Her fiction has appeared in “The Best American Short Stories” (edited by Annie Proulx), “The Best American Poetry” (edited by Robert Hass) and in publications ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to literary journals such as Conjunctions and McSweeney’s. Her work has been translated into six languages.

A translator of French literature and philosophy, Davis is widely recognized for her translation of Marcel Proust’s “Du Côté de chez Swann,” or “Swann’s Way” (2002), winner of the French-American Foundation’s Annual Translation Prize and considered one of the most significant literary works of the 20th century. She also has translated books by Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Jean Jouve and Michel Leiris.

Davis was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and translation and in 2003 received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She also has been honored with a Lannan Foundation Literary Award and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award.

Currently on leave from the State University of New York at Albany, where she serves on the English faculty, Davis lives and works in upstate New York. Her works in progress include a new translation of Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” for Viking Penguin.

Duncker Hall is located at the northwest corner of Brookings Quadrangle, near the intersection of Brookings and Hoyt drives. For more information, call (314) 935-7130 or email David Schuman at

Calendar Summary

WHO: Fiction writer Lydia Davis

WHAT: Talk on craft of fiction (March 17) and readings from her work (March 19)

WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and Thursday, March 19

WHERE: Hurst Lounge, Room 201 Duncker Hall

COST: Free and open to the public

SPONSOR: Washington University’s Writing Program Reading Series

INFORMATION: (314) 935-7130 or