David Sedaris Biography

Writer(1956–)
David Sedaris is a humorist and essayist best known for his sardonic autobiographical stories and social commentary.

Synopsis

Born in 1956, David Sedaris spent his childhood in New York and North Carolina. After graduating from art school in 1987, he drew attention for public readings from his diaries, leading to an acclaimed appearance on NPR in 1992. Sedaris soon became the best-selling author of such books as Barrel Fever, Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day, earning a devoted following for his hilarious recollections of his early years, family life and experiences in foreign countries.

Early Years

David Raymond Sedaris was born on December 26, 1956, in Johnson City, New York. He was the second of six children born to Sharon and Lou Sedaris, an IBM engineer who eventually moved the family to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sedaris graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh, where he performed in plays and wrestled with the realization he was gay. He briefly attended Western Carolina University and then Kent State University, but by 1977 he had dropped out of school to hitchhike around the country.

Around this time, Sedaris began keeping a diary. He knew he wanted to be a writer by age 25, and honed his craft while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating in 1987, he taught writing part time and began reading from his diary at a club. One reading caught the attention of Ira Glass of Chicago Public Radio, who invited Sedaris to appear on his program, The Wild Room

Famous Author

After moving to New York City in the fall of 1991, Sedaris found jobs as a housecleaner and department store elf to support his writing.

In December 1992, Sedaris appeared on NPR, reading his story "The SantaLand Diaries," which recounted his experiences as a Christmas elf at Macy's department store in Manhattan. Within months of the broadcast, Sedaris's essays began to appear in such magazines as Harper's, The New Yorker, and Esquire. He also began making regular appearances on NPR, noting the sudden change from "having 50 listeners to 50 million listeners."

Sedaris's first book, Barrel Fever (1994), which included "The SantaLand Diaries," was a critical and commercial success, as were his follow-up efforts, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). He became known for his bitingly funny recollections of his youth, family life and travels, making semi-celebrities out of his parents and siblings. Additionally, he enjoyed success through collaborations with younger sister Amy Sedaris, the two writing a series of plays as “The Talent Family.”

Sedaris published Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim in 2004, and the following year he edited the anthology Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. In 2007, a mild controversy arose when a New Republic article charged him with fabricating many of his stories, though the allegations ultimately had little effect on the author's popularity.

Following When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008), Sedaris went slightly off course with Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (2010), a collection of animal fables. He returned to his winning formula of biographical essays with Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013).

Sedaris continues to tour in support of his books, with his readings drawing huge crowds. He also contributes essays to The New Yorker. His next book, a collection of diary entries dating back to 1977, is scheduled for a May 2017 release.

Awards and Personal

In 2001, Sedaris was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and named Humorist of the Year by Time magazine. He has also earned three Grammy nominations for audio versions of his works, and in 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Binghamton University in New York.

The author has been with longtime boyfriend Hugh Hamrick, an artist and designer, since the early 1990s. After living together in New York City, Paris and Tokyo, the couple resides in West Sussex, England.

His sister, Amy Sedaris, is also a well-known comedian and entertainer.

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