Lydia Davis Wins Man Booker International Prize

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Posted 5.23.13 by Prize Reporter

American author Lydia Davis has won the fifth Man Booker International Prize. The award, worth £60,000 (approximately $90,000), was presented to Davis yesterday at an awards ceremony in London. 

Davis, whose recent prose chapbook, The Cows, was published by Sarabande Books in 2011, and whose collaborative work, Two American Scenes, is just out as part of the New Directions poetry pamphlet series, is best known for her short stories, which are often noted for their brevity. Christopher Ricks, chairman of the Man Booker International Prize panel of judges, said Davis’s “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorize them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers, or simply observations.”

Davis is the author of nine story collections and one novel, The End of the Story (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994). She is also a translator of French literature, most notably Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. 

The Man Booker International Prize is given biennially to a fiction writer from any country for a body of work. Living authors who have published fiction originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language are eligible. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel, which this year included Ricks, Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li, and Tim Parks. 

The finalists were U. R. Ananthamurthy, Aharon Appelfeld, Intizar Husain, Yan Lianke, Marie NDiaye, Josip Novakovich, Marilynne Robinson, Vladimir Sorokin, and Peter Stamm. The previous prize winners have included Chinua Achebe, Ismail Kadaré, Alice Munro, and Philip Roth.