My friend Lydia Davis, who is a FOFB (Friend of Freud’s Butcher), just won the Man Booker International Prize. We’re not talking the regular Man Booker Prize, which is prestigious enough, but a lifetime achievement award for fiction, presented once every two years. The four previous winners were Ismail Kadaré (2005), Chinua Achebe (2007), Alice Munro (2009), and Philip Roth in 2011.
According to the press release:
Lydia Davis is best known for her short stories, a number of them among the shortest stories ever written. Her work defies generic classification and she has been described as “the master of a literary form largely of her own invention”…. Davis is also well known for her work as a translator of French literature and philosophy, most notably for translating, to great acclaim, Marcel Proust’s complex Du Côté de Chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
She has won many of the major American writing awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship for fiction and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Davis has influenced a generation of writers including Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers, who wrote that Davis, ‘blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction.’
I’ve mentioned Lydia numerous times on this blog, not always by full name. Some highlights: She wrote a piece on the Kornmehl name; she translated Viktor Kornmehl’s letter to Sigmund Freud; and she was the one who discovered that Ezriel Kornmehl had changed his surname to Kornel, thus enabling us to track down the rest of his family.
She has been a great supporter of this project from the beginning, even before it went public. And, more important, a good friend.
So congratulations, Lydia, for a well deserved prize — and thanks. The literary cachet of this blog just went up 1,000%,
Over the decades you’ve always spoken of Lydia with great admiration and fondness. You’ve called her work brilliant, so I’m thrilled that her genius is now celebrated worldwide. Congratulations, Lydia!
Lydia Davis says
Thank you, Clare! It came as quite a surprise…