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Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis at Kelly Writers House in 2017
Lydia Davis at Kelly Writers House in 2017
Born July 15, 1947 (1947-07-15) (age 74)
Northampton, Massachusetts, US
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Alma mater Barnard College
Period 1976–present
Genre Short story, novel, essay
Spouses Paul Auster (1974–1977; divorced)
Alan Cote
Children 2
Relatives Robert Gorham Davis (father)
Hope Hale Davis (mother)

Lydia Davis (born July 15, 1947) is an American short story writer, novelist, essayist, and translator from French and other languages, who often writes extremely brief short stories. Davis has produced several new translations of French literary classics, including Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

Early life and education

Davis was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on July 15, 1947. She is the daughter of Robert Gorham Davis, a critic and professor of English, and Hope Hale Davis, a short-story writer, teacher, and memoirist. Davis initially "studied music—first piano, then violin—which was her first love". On becoming a writer, Davis has said, "I was probably always headed to being a writer, even though that wasn't my first love. I guess I must have always wanted to write in some part of me or I wouldn't have done it." She studied at Barnard College, and at that time she mostly wrote poetry.

In 1974 Davis married Paul Auster, with whom she had a son named Daniel. Auster and Davis later divorced; Davis is now married to the artist Alan Cote, with whom she has another son, Theo Cote. She is a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, SUNY, and was a Lillian Vernon Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University in 2012.


Davis has published six collections of fiction, including The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories (1976) and Break It Down (1986), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her most recent collections were Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the National Book Award published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007, and Can't and Won't (2013). The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (2009) contains all her fiction up to 2008.

Davis has also translated Proust, Flaubert, Blanchot, Foucault, Michel Leiris, Pierre Jean Jouve and other French writers, as well as Belgian novelist Conrad Detrez and the Dutch writer A.L. Snijders.

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