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Who is David Sedaris?

David Sedaris is a masterful storyteller whose wit and keen observations turn everyday experiences into captivating tales. His essays and books, like "Me Talk Pretty One Day," resonate with humor and humanity, earning him a devoted following. As he dissects life's absurdities, Sedaris invites us to laugh and reflect. Ready to explore the quirks of his literary world?
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

The American humorist David Sedaris was born in Binghamton, New York on December 26, 1956. Although he had a rocky start in his early career as a writer and artist, David Sedaris is now an internationally acclaimed author and radio contributor. He attended college in fits and starts, dropping out of Kent State University in 1977 and finishing his degree ten years later at the Art Institute in Chicago. Sedaris writes wickedly funny, self-deprecating accounts of those years in his teens and twenties.

His humorous stories also often relate information about his family members and experiences during childhood. David Sedaris is the brother of Amy Sedaris, who is an actress, comedian, and writer. The siblings have collaborated on a few writing projects, including the play The Book of Liz. Amy Sedaris was the start of the television show Strangers with Candy which was also turned into a full-length movie. Amy Sedaris has also published books on her own and with other writing partners including I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006).

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

According to his books, David Sedaris suffered from Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder as a young man. In his book Naked (1996), he claims that many of his nervous habits abated when he took up smoking in college. Although David Sedaris quit smoking in early 2007, he has angered anti-smoking campaign officials for years with his anti-anti-smoking campaign. On a speaking engagement in Pittsburgh in 1999, Sedaris made fun of an anti-smoking billboard in which a cigarette was transformed, on one end, into a sinister hypodermic needle. In response, the humorist noted that wish that there were, in fact, a way to inject cigarettes into his bloodstream.

David Sedaris has published a number of books and is a regular contributor at the New Yorker magazine. His books and magazine publications are often autobiographical. In addition to his rocky childhood, early adulthood, and family, Sedaris also writes about his life as a homosexual man, personal drug use, and life with his partner, Hugh. He and his partner currently live in France, though Sedaris makes frequent trips back to the US to attend speaking engagements and promote his books.

In addition to Naked, noted above, Sedaris has published the following books: Barrel Fever (1994), Holidays on Ice (1998), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy (2004), and Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (2005).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is David Sedaris and what is he known for?

David Sedaris is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He is renowned for his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques. Sedaris gained prominence with his radio essays on NPR's "This American Life" and his essay collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day." His work often draws from his own life experiences, exploring themes of family, identity, and culture with a sharp and often self-deprecating humor.

What are some of David Sedaris's most popular books?

David Sedaris's popularity soared with books like "Me Talk Pretty One Day," which chronicles his attempts to learn French, and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," a collection of essays about his family life. Other notable works include "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls," "Calypso," and "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002)," which provides insight into his personal life and creative process through his diaries.

Has David Sedaris won any awards for his writing?

Yes, David Sedaris has received numerous accolades for his writing. He was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor for "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, and he's been included in "The Best American Essays" multiple times, showcasing his recognition in the literary community.

What themes does David Sedaris typically explore in his work?

David Sedaris's work often delves into themes of family dynamics, societal norms, the absurdity of human behavior, and the experiences of being an expatriate. He is particularly known for his candid and humorous exploration of his own life, including his upbringing in a Greek-American family, his sexuality, and his observations of the world around him.

How has David Sedaris contributed to public radio and the arts?

David Sedaris's contributions to public radio, particularly his segments on NPR's "This American Life," have brought his unique storytelling to a wide audience. His readings on the show are highly anticipated and have helped to popularize the personal essay as a form of radio entertainment. Additionally, Sedaris's plays, co-written with his sister Amy Sedaris, and his frequent public readings and book tours have made significant impacts on the arts and literary scenes.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for PublicPeople, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for PublicPeople, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

hidingplace

I've heard Sedaris read on NPR and This American Life and he was great on both. He's very witty. My favorite David Sedaris quote would be "If you aren't cute, you may as well be clever" which is from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. As an ex-user myself I can relate to the stuff he writes about crystal meth use as well; it's both funny and sad, not to mention accurate. He seems to have had an interesting life.

redstaR

You can get a lot of David Sedaris' books on Audio CD and they're all read by him; he's an excellent speaker and the books are so funny. I have OCD and it's great to hear somebody else talk about it from their own point of view. His sister Amy Sedaris is funny too, she was in the TV show Strangers With Candy with Stephen Colbert.

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