A pair of MacArthur (“genius”) Fellowship recipients will teach and mentor aspiring writers at the University of Virginia next academic year as the Creative Writing Program’s next two Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writers-in-Residence.
Man Booker International Prize winner Lydia Davis, a renowned writer and translator revered in literary circles for her extremely brief and inventive short stories, will be on Grounds from Oct. 31 through Nov. 20.
Junot Díaz, author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, will follow Davis as the University’s fourth Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence from Jan. 23 to Feb. 11.
The Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Endowment was inspired by UVA’s first writer-in-residence, William Faulkner, who came to the College to consult, lecture and write for the spring semesters of 1957 and 1958. It was created to bring writers of international stature to the University to teach and engage with students and the literary community.
In addition to leading master classes and meeting with M.F.A. and undergraduate prose writers, Davis and Díaz each will deliver readings and talks during their residencies. Dates and locations for those free events, which will be open to the public, have yet to be determined.
“It’s tremendously exciting for us to be able to host not one, but two stellar authors next year,” said professor Jane Alison, director of the Department of English’s Creative Writing Program. “The writing of Davis and Díaz speaks powerfully to readers all over the world, and their formal innovations – starkly different as they are – have recharged recent literary fiction. Their work is particularly inspiring to our young writers; their presence will invigorate the literary community both on Grounds and well beyond.”
Davis, the author of one novel and seven story collections, teaches at the State University of New York at Albany. Her collection, “Varieties of Disturbance: Stories,” was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. In addition to her 2003 MacArthur fellowship, Davis is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal. The French government named her both a Chevalier and an Officer of the Order of the Arts and Letters for her fiction and her translations of modern writers, including Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris and Marcel Proust. Published in 2009, “The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis” won the Paris Review’s Hadada Award. Her 2014 collection, “Can’t and Won’t,” was a national bestseller.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Díaz is the author of the critically acclaimed short-story collections “Drown” and “This Is How You Lose Her,” a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. In addition to the MacArthur Fellowship and Pulitzer Prize, Díaz has received the PEN Malamud Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN O. Henry Award. Currently the fiction editor at Boston Review, he is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The late James Salter served as the first Kapnick Foundation Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the fall of 2014, followed by Caryl Phillips last month.