LYDIA DAVIS is the author of one novel and five story collections, including Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award and most recently, Can't and Won't. She is also the acclaimed translator of Swann's Way and Madame Bovary, both of which were awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis was described by James Wood in The New Yorker as a "grand cumulative achievement." She is the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.
It looks like an open-and-shut case when a London warehouse is burglarized and suspicion points at night watchman Jim Thorpe as an accomplice. But the struggling law student vehemently denies taking part in the crime, despite the efforts of detective-inspector Bell to make him confess. Slowly, Bell becomes convinced that Thorpe is innocent, especially after the young man begins an investigation of his own that results in his being stalked and viciously beaten. At the heart of the mystery is a letter stolen from the warehouse that incriminates Sir Thomas Barnham, a Member of Parliament, in a shady land deal. Is Barnham guilty of setting up the burglary and the murders that followed? Thorpe travels from a Spanish resort to the upper echelons of power to find the truth, in this absorbing and well-crafted mystery. (July 11)
Autobiographical in texture, introspective in tone, these
stories are grounded in sufficient detail to offer a peephole into
a distinct fictional world; and in doing so, they attest to the
author's gift as an observer and archivist of emotion.--The New
York Times An American virtuoso of the short story
Davis is one of the most precise and economical writers we have.--Dave Eggers, McSweeney's The best prose stylist in America.--Rick Moody [Davis has] a capacity to make language unleash entire states of existence.--Siddhartha Deb, The New York Times All who know [Davis's] work probably remember their first time reading it. It kind of blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction. I read it on the F train from 6th Avenue to Park Slope--it's a long ride and that book isn't all that long--and by the end I felt liberated. She'd broken all of the most constraining rules. Some of her stories have plots but most don't. Some are in the range of acceptable short story length, most aren't. Many straddle a line between philosophy, poetry, and fiction, categories that seem meaningless because her stories just work. There is rarely a plot as we expect from plot. The characters in the course of the story don't undergo a fundamental change. The plot, rather, stems from the narrator's trying to get at some truth. [Davis's] stories are as often as not mental exercises, a brain trying to conclude. Because truth is what she's after. There is an unrelenting and merciless truth presented, or at least fumbled for, in everything [she] writes...Davis is one of the most precise and economical writers we have.--Dave Eggers, McSweeney's