Lydia Davis, American short story writer, won the Man Booker International Prize for 2013. Davis is a virtuoso of the very short form. Some of her stories are as brief as two sentences. The chairman of the prize judges, Sir Christopher Ricks, describing Davis’ literary structures asked whether we should consider Davis’ work stories, or “Or perhaps miniatures? Anecdotes? Essays? Jokes? Parables? Fables? Texts? Aphorisms, or even apophthegms? Prayers, or perhaps wisdom literature? Or might we settle for observations?”
As prizes go, this isn’t Davis’ first rodeo. Her list of awards includes the PEN/Hemingway, National Book Award and Guggenheim Fellowship. Davis redefines brevity in her work. She eschews the traditional beginning-middle-end format for a more precise and sometimes surprising narrative form. Her command of language is poetic.
Look for Davis’ stories in The Best American Short Stories (1997), The Pushcart Prize: best of the small presses (1989) and in her book The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (2009).