Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis

Advice to the Young

“Be patient – even with chaos.” Let American author, Lydia Davis, guide you through the insecurities and literary wilderness that upcoming writers often face.

As a writer, Lydia Davis finds it important to never cave in to the pressure of publishers or agents: “Do what you want to do, and don’t worry if it's a little odd or doesn’t fit the market.”

Writing isn’t neat – quite the contrary – and it’s necessary to put effort into making the text flow: “You learn from models, you study them, you analyse them very closely. What kind of adjectives, how many, what kind of nouns, how long are the sentences, what’s the rhythm? You pick it apart.”

Lydia Davis (b. 1947) is considered “the master of form largely of her own invention.” She has written several collections of short stories, e.g. ‘Break It Down’ (1986), ‘Varieties of Disturbance’ (2007) and ‘Can’t and Won’t’ (2014). When Davis received the Man Booker International Prize in 2013, the chairman of the judges said that “her 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 also an acclaimed translator of French writers such as Proust, Gustave Flaubert and Maurice Blanchot.

American novelist Jonathan Franzen has characterized Lydia Davis thus: “She is the shorter Proust among us. She has the sensitivity to track the stuff that is so evanescent it flies right by the rest of us. But as it does so, it leaves enough of a trace that when you read her you do it with a sense of recognition.”

Lydia Davis was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Louisiana Literature festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2014.

Camera: Klaus Elmer & Nikolaj Jungersen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Terry Winters

    Unintended Things to Happen

    In a culture full of digital images and copies, painting is a “singular lens with the capacity to reflect an individual’s vision,” says American artist Terry Winters. Hear how he applies a “painterly approach” to his work with printmaking and drawing.

  • Nobuo Sekine

    Sensibility of a Rock

    “I create works with the perspective of admiration for nature. I believe that my job is to convey the richness of nature to viewers.” Japanese artist Nobuo Sekine’s sculptures defy gravity. Learn how he got the idea to elevate a rock – and make it fly.

  • Alan Hollinghurst

    The Secret Life of a Poem

    An inspiring conversation with the award-winning English novelist Alan Hollinghurst – noted for his novel ‘The Line of Beauty’ – about being a sort of puppet master to his characters and being characterized as “a gay writer.”

  • Gardar Eide Einarsson

    The Violence Under the Surface

    “I’ve lost the youthful naivety that leads me to think authorities should be torn down. I see it as an on-going negotiation.” Norwegian-born Gardar Eide Einarsson, who is now based in Tokyo, knows first-hand how different societies deal with authority.

  • Sing Along With Brian Eno

    "I believe in singing together," says Brian Eno, widely regarded as the intellectual icon of modern western music. Join him as he humorously conducts a public morning choir with songs and spirituals of his own choice.

  • Richard Ford & Colm Tóibín

    Narrators Are Unreliable

    “You have to write about the thing you’ll be the world’s greatest expert in.” In this humorous conversation award-winning authors and friends Richard Ford and Colm Tóibín discuss each other’s work and exchange the secrets to prose writing.

  • Steve Roggenbuck

    A Poet From the Internet

    “I don’t know if you should call these videos poetry or not, but they’re what happens when a poet starts making YouTube videos.” Meet Steve Roggenbuck, a young poet who has been compared to Walt Whitman and who sees social media as poetry.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Taryn Simon

    Where the Secret Goes

    Like a spy, American artist Taryn Simon uncovers the hidden places of the USA, portraying her country through its foundational spaces: religion, security, law. Like the country itself, the meaning, says Simon, is “ever morphing.”

  • Joan Jonas

    Advice to the Young

    “Love what you do. Because it’s not easy. It’s not easy to make art.” Watch as the iconic video and performance artist Joan Jonas advises her younger colleagues to enjoy what they’re doing as you never know how people will respond to your work.

  • Wura-Natasha Ogunji

    The Kissing Mask

    “Kissing can be so many things…a way of connection that is purely about recognising another person’s humanity, divinity and essence.” Meet artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji, who sees performance as a way to witness and transcend the flaws of human nature.

  • Ragnar Kjartansson

    on Stage with his Mother

    The "mother with child" is one of the oldest clichés in the art historical vocabulary. Performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson grew up in the theatre with an actress-mother who attuned him to what he calls "the realness of fakeness."