Raymond Federman - Biography

Biography

Federman was born in Montrouge, France, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan from 1951 to 1954, he studied at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1957. He did his graduate studies at U.C.L.A., receiving his M.A. in 1958, and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 1963, with his doctoral dissertation on Samuel Beckett.

He taught in the French Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1959 to 1964, and in the French Department at The State University of New York at Buffalo from 1964 to 1973, and as a fiction writer in the English Department at the University at Buffalo from 1973 to 1999. He was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor in 1990, and in 1992, appointed to the Melodia E. Jones Chair of Literature, where he served until retiring in July 1999. In 2000, he was appointed as Distinguished Emeritus Professor.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of The Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines from 1973-1976. From 1979-1982 he was Co-Director of the Fiction Collective, a publishing house dedicated to experimental fiction and its writers, and later served on the Board of Directors of Fiction Collective Two.

Federman died of cancer at the age of 81 in San Diego, California., and in May 2010, his final new English novel was released by Starcherone Press: SHHH: The Story of a Childhood, edited and with an introduction from writer Davis Schneiderman, who also made a 2007 YouTube video with Federman and author Lidia Yuknavtich, in which the three boil books in noodles. This is a reference to Federman's first novel Double or Nothing.

In his lifetime he read from his work in most major American Universities, and lectured in at least eighteen foreign countries. His novels have been translated into over a dozen languages, and all his novels have been adapted into radio plays in Germany.

Several full-length books have been written about his work, including a 400-page casebook entitled Federman From A to X-X-X-X by Larry McCaffery, Thomas Hartl and Doug Rice. In 2010 SUNY Press published Federman's Fiction's: Innovation, Theory, and the Holocaust, a collection of essays edited by Jeffrey R. Di Leo intended to demonstrate the relevance of Federman's writing to disciplines beyond contemporary and experimental literature. The collection featured a preface by the esteemed American poet Charles Bernstein, Federman's former colleague at SUNY Buffalo, as well as contributions by an international cast of scholars, writers, and critics including Jerome Klinkowitz, Dan Stone, Marcel Cornis-Pope, Alyson Waters, Eric Dean Rasmussen, Jan Baetens, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Davis Schneiderman, Eckhard Gerdes and Brian McHale. His 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 510 page issue to his work.

Raymond Federman’s excerpt from Return to Manure won an &NOW award in 2009 and was published in The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing. Federman also participated in the biennial &NOW festival, a festival for experimental and innovative writing.

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