Raymond Federman (1928-2009)

Ray Federman by Charles Bernstein
Ray Federman by Charles Bernstein

The sad news just reached me that Ray Federman has passed. And here I was thinking that if anybody would crack that immortality thing, it would be Ray! The news came via Charles Bernstein’s weblog — check it out here. And check out Federman’s site here.

And here is Ray’s Resumé in his own words, making it clear that he’s still with us, & will always be:

Born in France (1928), I am a bilingual writer. I emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan (1951-54), I studied at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill (B.A. Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1957); graduate studies at U.C.L.A. (M.A., 1958, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, 1963 — doctoral dissertation on Samuel Beckett).

1959-1964, I taught in the French Department, at the University of California at Santa Barbara; 1964-1973, in the French Department at The State University of New York at Buffalo [promoted to Full Professor in 1968); 1973-1999, as a fiction writer in the English Department at SUNY-Buffalo. In 1990, I was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor, and in 1992, I was appointed to the Melodia E. Jones Chair of Literature. I retired from SUNY-Buffalo in July 1999. Distinguished Emeritus Professor, 2000.

Though I have published five volumes of poems (Among the Beasts,1967; Me Too, 1975; Duel-Duel, 1990; Now Then,1992, 99 Hand-Written Poems, 2001); four books of criticism on Samuel Beckett, three collections of essays, numerous articles, essays, and translations, I consider myself primarily a fiction writer.

To date I have published ten novels: Double or Nothing (Swallow Press, 1971, winner of the Frances Steloff Fiction Prize and The Panache Experimental Fiction Prize); Amer Eldorado (written in French, Editions Stock, Paris, 1974, nominated for Le Prix Médicis); Take It or Leave It (Fiction Collective, 1976); The Voice in the Closet (Coda Press, 1979); The Twofold Vibration (Indiana University Press & Harvester Press Ltd., 1982); Smiles on Washington Square (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1985, awarded The American Book Award by The Before Columbus Foundation); To Whom It May Concern (The Fiction Collective Two, 1990); La Fourrure de ma Tante Rachel (written in French, Éditions Circé, Paris, 1997). Loose Shoes [Weidler Verlag, Berlin], 2001; Aunt Rachel’s Fur [FC2, 2001].

My novels have been translated into German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Polish, Dutch, Rumanian, Serbian, Greek, Portuguese, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and soon to appear in Finnish and Turkish.

My fiction, poetry, and translations have appeared in numerous literary magazines both in the U.S. and abroad, including Partisan Review, Paris Review, Chicago Review, Fiction International, North American Review, Mississippi Review, Formation, Caliban, The New Boston Review, Virginia Quarterly, Tri-Quarterly, The Denver Quarterly, Black Ice, TXT, Le Monde, Esprit, Schreibheft, Texturas, Lettre International, and others.

1966-67, I was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship; in 1977, I was a fellow in residence at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France; 1982-83, I received a Fulbright Fellowship to Israel as Writer-in-Residence at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; I was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction in 1985, and a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for fiction in 1986; 1989-1990, I was invited by DAAD (The Berlin Kunstler-Programm) to spend a year in Berlin as Writer-in-Residence. During that year, DAAD published in a bilingual edition a collection of some of my experimental poetry and prose entitled Playtexts-Spieltexte, and The Stopover Press in Berlin published Duel-Duel, a trilingual volume of poems. In 1995, I was awarded Les Palmes Académiques by the French Government; in 1998, my play, The Precipice, had its world premiere in Jyvaskyla, Finland, and was adapted as a radio play by Deutschland Radio in Berlin. All my novels have been adapted into radio plays in Germany.

From 1973 to 1976, I was a member of the Board of Directors of The Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines. 1979-82, I served as Co-Director of The Fiction Collective, and I am currently on the Board of Directors of The Fiction Collective Two. 1978-1981, I served on the Literature Panel of the New York Council on the Arts, and from 1980 to 1983, on the Board of Hallwalls. I also served as a judge for fiction for CAPS in 1980, for the Massachusetts Arts Council in 1984, and the Wisconsin Arts Council in 1988, and as a judge for fiction for the New York State Foundation for the Arts in 1986-87. In 1995, I was one of the judges for the American Awards for Literature.

Since 1977, I have read from my work in most major U.S. Universities, and I have lectured for U.S.I.A in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Japan, Turkey.

Several full-length books and numerous articles have been written about my work, and six doctoral dissertations. In 1998, a 400 page casebook entitled Federman From A to X-X-X-X by Larry McCaffery, Doug Rice, and Thomas Hartl, was published by San Diego State University Press. In 1999, my collected plays were published in Austria in a bilingual edition (English/German) under the title The Precipice & Other Catastrophes. In 2002 The Journal of Experimental Fiction devoted a 500 page issue to my work.

I am listed in Who’s Who in America, Contemporary Fiction Writers, Directory of American Poets & Fiction Writers, World Authors, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Authors Autobiographies, and several others. I am an Honorary Trustee of the Samuel Beckett Society.

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5 opinions on “Raymond Federman (1928-2009)”

  1. For the life of me, I cannot understand how I missed this impressive man (having grown up in the SUNYAB English Dept. as the daughter of 2 English professors from 1969-76 and spent 1976-80 at UB as a student, again from 85-87, and yet again from 90-93…) Obviously, MY loss! My condolences to those who knew him and to our poorer literary world without him.

  2. Raymond Federman was the External Examiner (from a Dept. other than English) for my Ph.D. orals in 1967 at SUNYAB. I never really knew him, but that day he was kind and non-confrontational, as if he knew the fix was in, and I was grateful.

  3. I am shocked, although we knew it was approaching fast, at the passing away of the great Raymond Fedrman. He was such a fantastic man — kind, warmhearted, and broadminded. For more than fifteen years till a month before his death, he regularly wrote, sent poems, fictions, and other texts to this friend form India,as he would address me. His writings and the man himself changed my way of thinking. He was so affectionate and caring. I will always miss him as a present absence — who taught me laughter. I salute you Ray, my friend philosopher and guide.

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