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David Sedaris
A bust photograph of a white man in spectacles; he is wearing a white patterned shirt, blue jacket, and a jaw-mounted microphone. He is facing the camera, looking to its left.
Sedaris at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018
BornDavid Raymond Sedaris
(1956-12-26) December 26, 1956 (age 66)
Johnson City, New York, U.S.
EducationSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago (BA)
GenreHumor, essays
Notable awardsThurber Prize for American Humor
American Academy of Arts and Letters
PartnerHugh Hamrick
RelativesAmy Sedaris (sister)

David Raymond Sedaris (/sɪˈdɛərɪs/; born December 26, 1956)[1][2] is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "Santaland Diaries”. He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. His next book, Naked (1997), became his first of a series of New York Times Bestsellers, and his 2000 collection Me Talk Pretty One Day won the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Much of Sedaris's humor is ostensibly autobiographical and self-deprecating and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, his Greek heritage, homosexuality, jobs, education, drug use, and obsessive behaviors, as well as his life in France, London, New York, and the South Downs in England. He is the brother and writing collaborator of actress Amy Sedaris.

In 2019, Sedaris was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    321 529
    193 839
    548 282
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  • David Sedaris on Storytelling, Humor & Chatting with Strangers
  • David Sedaris - This American Life - Invisible Made Visible
  • David Sedaris reads 6 To 8 Black Men
  • David Sedaris on Kids and Teens | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
  • Drew Interviews David and Amy Sedaris in Their First TV Appearance Together


Early life and education

Sedaris was born in Johnson City, New York,[3] to Sharon Elizabeth (née Leonard) and Louis Harry "Lou" Sedaris (1923–2021), an IBM engineer.[4][5][6] His mother was Anglo-American.[7] His father was born in the U.S. to immigrants from Apidea in Greece.[8] His mother was Protestant, and his father was Greek Orthodox,[9] which was the faith in which David was raised.[10][11]

The Sedaris family moved when David was young, and he grew up in a suburban area of Raleigh, the second oldest child of six. His siblings, from oldest to youngest, are Lisa, Gretchen, Amy,[12] Tiffany,[13] and Paul ("the Rooster").[14] Tiffany died by suicide in 2013, a subject David deals with in the essay "Now We Are Five", which was published in The New Yorker.[15]

After graduating from Jesse O. Sanderson High School in Raleigh, Sedaris briefly attended Western Carolina University[16] before transferring to, and dropping out of, Kent State University in 1977. In his teens and twenties, David dabbled in visual and performance art. He describes his lack of success in several of his essays.

He moved to Chicago in 1983, and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. He did not attend Princeton University, although he spoke fondly of doing so in "What I Learned", a comic baccalaureate address delivered at Princeton in June 2006.


While working odd jobs in Raleigh, Chicago, and New York City, Sedaris was discovered in a Chicago club by radio host Ira Glass. Sedaris was reading a diary he had kept since 1977. Impressed with his work, Glass asked him to appear on his weekly local program, The Wild Room.[17] Referring to the opportunity, Sedaris said, "I owe everything to Ira... My life just changed completely, like someone waved a magic wand."[18] Sedaris's success on The Wild Room led to his National Public Radio debut on December 23, 1992, when he read a radio essay on Morning Edition titled "Santaland Diaries," which described his purported experiences as an elf at Macy's department store during Christmas in New York.

"Santaland Diaries" was a success with listeners[19] and made Sedaris what The New York Times called "a minor phenomenon." He began recording a monthly segment for NPR, which was based on his diary entries and was edited and produced by Glass, and he also signed a two book deal with Little, Brown and Company.[17] In 1993, Sedaris told The New York Times he was publishing his first book, a collection of stories and essays, and he had 70 pages written of his second book, a novel "about a man who keeps a diary and whom Mr. Sedaris described as 'not me, but a lot like me'."[17]

Collections and mainstream success

In 1994, Sedaris published Barrel Fever, a collection of stories and essays. He became a frequent contributor when Ira Glass began a weekly hour-long PRI/Chicago Public Radio show, This American Life, in 1995. Sedaris began writing essays for Esquire and The New Yorker. In 1997, he published another collection of essays, Naked, which won the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction from Publishing Triangle in 1998.[20]

Naked and his subsequent four essay collections, Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008), became New York Times Best Sellers.[21]

Me Talk Pretty One Day was written mostly in France, over seven months, and it was published in 2000 to "practically unanimous rave reviews."[22] For that book, Sedaris won the 2001 Thurber Prize for American Humor.[23]

In April 2001, Variety reported Sedaris had sold the Me Talk Pretty One Day film rights to director Wayne Wang, who was adapting four stories from the book for Columbia Pictures.[12][24] Wang had completed the script and begun casting when Sedaris asked to "get out of it," after he and his sister worried how their family might be portrayed. He wrote about the conversation and its aftermath in the essay "Repeat After Me." Sedaris recounted that Wang was "a real prince... I didn't want him to be mad at me, but he was so grown up about it. I never saw how it could be turned into a movie anyway."[25]

In 2004, Sedaris published Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which reached number 1 on The New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List in June of that year.[26] The audiobook of Dress Your Family, read by Sedaris, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. The same year, Sedaris was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for his recording Live at Carnegie Hall. In March 2006, Ira Glass said that Sedaris's next book would be a collection of animal fables;[27] during that year, Sedaris included several animal fables in his US book tour, and three of his fables were broadcast on This American Life.[28][29][30]

In September 2007, a new Sedaris collection was announced for publication the following year.[31] The collection's working title was All the Beauty You Will Ever Need, but Sedaris retitled it Indefinite Leave to Remain and finally settled on the title When You Are Engulfed in Flames.[32][33] Although at least one news source assumed the book would be fables,[citation needed] Sedaris said in October 2007 that the collection might include a "surprisingly brief story about [his] decision to quit smoking," along with other stories about various topics, including chimpanzees at a typing school, and people visiting [him] in France.[32] The book was described as his darkest, as it dealt with themes of death and dying.[34][35]

In December 2008, Sedaris received an honorary doctorate from Binghamton University.[36]

In April 2010, BBC Radio 4 aired Meet David Sedaris, a four-part series of essays, which Sedaris read before a live audience.[37] A second series of six programs began airing on BBC Radio 4 Extra in June 2011, with a third series beginning in September 2012.[38] In July 2017, the sixth series was aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra. In 2010, he released a collection of stories, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.[31][32][39] Sedaris released a collection of essays, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, in 2013 and, in 2017, published a collection of his 1977–2002 diaries, Theft By Finding. Also in 2013, the film adaptation of an essay from Naked was released as a feature-length movie, C.O.G.

In July 2011, Sedaris's essay "Chicken Toenails, Anyone", published in The Guardian,[40] garnered some criticism over concerns that it was insensitive towards China and Chinese culture.[41][42]

A frequent guest of late-night US talk show host Craig Ferguson, in April 2012, Sedaris joined Ferguson and the cast of CBS's The Late, Late Show in Scotland for a theme week filmed in and around Cumbernauld and in Edinburgh. The five weeknight episodes aired in May 2012.[citation needed]

Sedaris's ninth book, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, was released in April 2013.

In 2014, he participated in Do I Sound Gay?, a documentary film by David Thorpe about stereotypes of gay men's speech patterns.[43]

He appeared along with his sister Amy as special guest judges on season 8, episode 8, of RuPaul's Drag Race.[44] He also appeared as a guest in the Adult Swim television series FishCenter Live.[45]

Sedaris guest starred on the Netflix animated comedy-drama series BoJack Horseman as the mother of Princess Carolyn, voiced by Amy Sedaris.[46]

In 2019, Sedaris was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[47]

In 2022, he published Happy Go Lucky, where he reflected on his relationship with his recently deceased father.[48]

Truth of nonfiction work

In 2007, in an article in The New Republic, Alexander S. Heard stated that much of Sedaris's work is insufficiently factual to justify being marketed as nonfiction.[49] Several published responses to Heard's article argued that Sedaris's readers are aware that his descriptions and stories are intentionally exaggerated and manipulated to maximize comic effect,[50] while others used the controversy as a springboard for discussing the liberties publishers are willing to take when calling books "nonfiction".[51]

Subsequently, in the wake of a controversy involving Mike Daisey's dramatizing and embellishing his personal experiences at Chinese factories, during an excerpt from his theatrical monologue for This American Life, new attention has been paid to the veracity of Sedaris's nonfiction stories. NPR labels stories from Sedaris, such as "Santaland Diaries", as fiction, while This American Life fact checks stories, to the extent that memories and long-ago conversations can be checked.[52] The New Yorker already subjects nonfiction stories written for that magazine to its comprehensive fact-checking policy.[53]

The Talent Family

Sedaris has written several plays with his sister, actress Amy Sedaris, under the name "The Talent Family". These include Stump the Host (1993), Stitches (1994), One Woman Shoe, which co-starred David Rakoff (1995)[54] and The Little Frieda Mysteries (1997). All were produced and presented by Meryl Vladimer while she was the artistic director of "the CLUB" at La MaMa, E.T.C. The Book of Liz (2001) was written by Sedaris and his sister, Amy and produced by Drama Dept. at The Greenwich Theater in New York.[55]

The New Yorker

Sedaris has contributed over 40 essays to The New Yorker magazine and blog.[56]

Personal life

As of 2019, Sedaris lives in Rackham, West Sussex, England with his longtime partner, painter and set designer Hugh Hamrick. Sedaris mentions Hamrick in a number of his stories,[57][58][59] and describes the two of them as the "sort of couple who wouldn't get married."[60][61]

Sedaris is known to regularly wear a headlamp at night and spend hours removing litter from roads and highways near Rackham.[58] Because of this hobby he is known locally as "Pig Pen" and has a waste vehicle named after him.[62][63]


Story and essay collections

  • Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays. Boston: Little, Brown. 1994.
  • Holidays on Ice. 1997.
  • Naked. Boston: Little, Brown. 1997.
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day. 2000.
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. 2004.
  • Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (editor, 2005)
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008)
  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (2010)
  • Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls (April 2013)
  • Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002) (May 2017)
  • Calypso (May 2018)
  • The Best of Me (November 2020)
  • A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003–2020) (October 2021)
  • Happy-Go-Lucky (May 2022)



  • "One-Woman Shoe," by David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris (1995)
  • Santaland Diaries and Seasons Greetings (1998)
  • The Book of Liz: A Play by David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris (2002)

Audio recordings


  1. ^ Oswalt, Patton (May 29, 2017). "David Sedaris's Diaries Track a Path From Struggle to Success". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  2. ^ "Dec. 26, 2015: birthday: David Sedaris". The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  3. ^ Finding Your Roots, PBS, Episode 9.
  4. ^ Sedaris, David (2006). "Dix Hill". Naked (1 ed.). London: Abacus. p. 90.
  5. ^ "TNR". Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  6. ^ "TNR". Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  7. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, PBS, November 18, 2014
  8. ^ "Louis Sedaris Obituary - Raleigh, NC". Archived from the original on May 2, 2022. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  9. ^ Sedaris, David (June 5, 2001). Me Talk Pretty One Day: Books: David Sedaris. ISBN 0316776963.
  10. ^ Sedaris, David (June 5, 2001). Me Talk Pretty One Day. Back Bay Books. ISBN 0316776963.
  11. ^ "Amy Sedaris Interview". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Lafreniere, Steve "Amy and David Sedaris" Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Index Magazine, 2001. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  13. ^ Moore, Jina (August 15, 2004). "Sister in a glass house". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2019 – via
  14. ^ Weisbecker, Lee (May 23, 2005). "Built from the floor up". Triangle Business Journal. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  15. ^ Sedaris, David (October 21, 2013). "Now We Are Five". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  16. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  17. ^ a b c Marchese, John. "He Does Radio And Windows" Archived December 8, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, July 4, 1993. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  18. ^ St. John, Warren. "Turning Sour Grapes Into a Silk Purse" Archived June 27, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, June 6, 2004. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  19. ^ "Sedaris and Crumpet the Elf: A Holiday Tradition" Archived March 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  20. ^ "Publishing Triangle Awards". The Publishing Triangle. Archived from the original on March 23, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  21. ^ *"Best Sellers: April 6, 1997" Archived July 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, April 6, 1997. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  22. ^ Richards, Linda. "David Sedaris" Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, January Magazine, June 2000. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  23. ^ "Past Thurber Prize Winners". Thurber House. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  24. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 5, 2001). "'Wave' duo pilot cable; Wang's 'Pretty' deal", Variety. Archived October 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  25. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh. "10 Questions For David Sedaris", Time, June 21, 2004. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  26. ^ "Best Sellers: June 20, 2004" Archived July 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, June 20, 2004. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  27. ^ Glass, Ira. Chicago Public Radio pledge drive, March 24, 2006.
  28. ^ Sedaris, David (December 23, 2005). "An Animal Farm Christmas". This American Life. Episode 305. WBEZ. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  29. ^ Sedaris, David (February 10, 2006). "So A Squirrel And A Chipmunk Walk Into A Bar". This American Life. Episode 308. WBEZ. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  30. ^ Sedaris, David (February 24, 2006). "Hello Kitty". This American Life. Episode 309. WBEZ. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  31. ^ a b Isaac, Mike. "David Sedaris announces new book release" Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Paste, September 20, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2007.
  32. ^ a b c Hambrick, Greg. "David Sedaris is Taking Notes" Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Charleston City Paper, October 3, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  33. ^ Neyfakh, Leon (February 21, 2008), "Why Does David Sedaris Keep Changing the Title of His Book? The Man Himself Explains", The New York Observer. Archived October 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  34. ^ Mohl, Lucy (June 20, 2008). "In "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," some stories burn brighter than others". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  35. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (June 15, 2008). "Up in Smoke". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  36. ^ "Binghamton University to hold second Fall commencement" (Press release). Binghamton University. December 8, 2008. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  37. ^ "Meet David Sedaris". Radio 4. BBC. Archived from the original on April 10, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  38. ^ "Meet David Sedaris". Radio 4 Extra. BBC. Archived from the original on June 19, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  39. ^ Releases worth a bookmark Archived September 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. September 8, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  40. ^ "David Sedaris: Chicken toenails, anyone?" Archived January 8, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  41. ^ Yang, Jeff (July 29, 2011). "David Sedaris Talks Ugly About China" Archived July 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  42. ^ O'Connell, Joe (July 23, 2011). "Your letters: Tell us what you think". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  43. ^ "'Do I Sound Gay?': Toronto Review" Archived August 1, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. The Hollywood Reporter, September 8, 2014.
  44. ^ "Drag Race's Book Ball showcases the strength of season 8". AV Club. April 25, 2016. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  45. ^ Argyle, Samuel (March 29, 2019). "A fantasy getaway in a fish tank". The Outline. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  46. ^ "Princess Carolyn learns you can't go home again as BoJack Horseman heads to the Tar Heel State". The A.V. Club. September 14, 2018. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  47. ^ Fedor, Ashley. "2019 Newly Elected Members". American Academy of Arts and Letters. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  48. ^ McAlpin, Heller (May 31, 2022). "In 'Happy-Go-Lucky,' David Sedaris reflects on his fraught relationship with his dad". NPR. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  49. ^ Heard, Alex. "This American Lie: A midget guitar teacher, a Macy's elf, and the truth about David Sedaris" Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, The New Republic, March 19, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 20085.
  50. ^ Balk, Alex. "David Sedaris May Sometimes Exaggerate For Effect!" Archived August 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Gawker, March 14, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  51. ^ Villalon, Oscar. "Public's taste for nonfiction has publishers playing fast and loose with labels" Archived April 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Chronicle, April 3, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  52. ^ Farhi, Paul (May 14, 2012). "Style". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  53. ^ Lyall, Sarah (June 8, 2008). "What You Read Is What He Is, Sort Of". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  54. ^ Brantley, Ben (January 26, 1995). "Turning the Headlines Sideways Into Laughs". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 1, 2022. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  55. ^ Gutman, Les (March 28, 2001). "A Curtain Up Review: The Book of Liz". Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp. Archived from the original on July 14, 2022. Retrieved July 1, 2022. A production of Drama Dept. ... Opening 3/26/01 Closing 5/20/01 --several extensions, to 6/01/01
  56. ^ "Contributors – David Sedaris". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  57. ^ Granberry, Michael (April 25, 2019). "David Sedaris, who long ago mastered a sense of surprise, ruminates on anger, trash and Texas". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on August 18, 2022. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  58. ^ a b Wakeford, Dan (November 12, 2018). "Humorist David Sedaris Was Invited to Buckingham Palace by the Queen for 'Picking Up Rubbish'". People. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  59. ^ Ferber, Lawrence. "David Sedaris". Passport. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  60. ^ Schrobsdorff, Susanna (May 29, 2008). "David Sedaris on Writing, Reading and Gay Marriage". Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  61. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Ramblings, Series 23, David Sedaris". BBC. March 9, 2013. Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  62. ^ "South Downs litter picker has truck named after him". West Sussex County Times. Horsham. July 28, 2014. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  63. ^ Dowling, Tim (July 31, 2014). "David Sedaris? Who? Oh, you mean the local litter-picker". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 2, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  64. ^ Sedaris, David (November 29, 2004). "Reflections: Old Faithful". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on June 23, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  65. ^ Sedaris, David (June 26, 2006). "Annals of Commencement: What I Learned". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  66. ^ Sedaris, David (April 2, 2012). "Socialized Medicine in Old Europe". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on May 30, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  67. ^ McAvoy, Liz (October 6, 2010). "Author, humorist David Sedaris enlivens Landmark Theater". The Collegian. University of Richmond (Virginia). Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  68. ^ Sedaris, David (December 2, 2005). "David and Goliath". This American Life. WBEZ. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  69. ^ Online version is titled "David Sedaris: Why aren't you laughing?".
  70. ^ Online version is titled "Personal History by David Sedaris: Father Time".

External links

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