Oberlin College 2018 Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. He is the master of satire and one of today’s most observant writers addressing the human condition, especially apparent in his latest book, a collection of his diaries entitled Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) (May 2017).
Beloved for his personal essays and short stories, Sedaris is the author of Barrel Fever, Holidays on Ice, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.
He is the author of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, a collection of fables with illustrations by Ian Falconer. Each of these books was an immediate best seller. He was also the editor of Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories. His pieces regularly appear in the New Yorker and have twice been included in “The Best American Essays.”
He and his sister, Amy Sedaris, have collaborated under the name the Talent Family, and have written a half-dozen plays that have been produced at La Mama, Lincoln Center, and the Drama Department in New York City. These plays include Stump the Host, Stitches, One Woman Shoe, which received an Obie Award, Incident at Cobbler’s Knob, and The Book of Liz, which was published in book form by Dramatists Play Service.
Sedaris’s original audio pieces can often be heard on the public radio show This American Life.
He has been nominated for three Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word and Best Comedy Album. His latest audio recording of new stories (recorded live) is “David Sedaris: Live for Your Listening Pleasure” (November 2009).
A feature film adaptation of his story C.O.G. was released after a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Since 2011, he can be heard annually on a series of live recordings on BBC Radio 4 entitled “Meet David Sedaris.”
As a companion piece to Theft By Finding, Jeffrey Jenkins published and edited an art book of Sedaris’s diary covers, entitled David Sedaris Diaries: A Visual Compendium (October 2017). A forthcoming book of essays entitled Calypso is set to be published June 2018, and a second volume of his diaries is expected for summer 2019.