Novelist and Teacher Daniel Torday explains how it is done
By Ana Azevedo
It is said that those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. But what about the lucky few who get to do both?
Daniel Torday is a professor and the director of creative writing at Bryn Mawr college. He is also an author. More specifically, he is a novelist and short story writer.
His students at Bryn Mawr know him as their quirky, funny professor. A man who is always around to listen and give advice, whether it be about their writing or just life in general. He is someone who is kind, but also direct. Understanding, but firm. He is relatable, and outspoken about his views.
For example, all his students know how he feels about our current president. Hint; he is not a fan. He is the type of professor who would bring donuts on the last day of classes, but not without bringing along a substitute for any students with dietary restrictions. It’s obvious to whoever knows him personally that he cares about his students and their personal journeys as writers, very much. That is the man who his students and colleagues know.
But to the literary world, he isn’t just a quirky professor, he is a star. He has written and published three books, “The Last Flight of Poxl West”, “The Sensualist”, and “Boomer1”. His 2012 novella, “The Sensualist”, won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction.
In 2015, his novel, “The Last Fight of Poxl West”, was published and received a glowing review from The New York Times. It was even featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. Along with winning several other prizes, the novel was also long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award, one of literature’s most esteemed prizes.
His most recent work, Boomer1, has seen it’s own share of literary acclaim. His short stories have been featured in the New York Times, and in the Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays series.
To the world, he is a well respected author, but if you asked him what his definition of literary success looks like he would smile and say, “My dear friend the YA [young adult] novelist John Green once said, you know, the success is good, but it’s about touching one reader, somewhere, who really just gets it and loves it. So that.”
Torday does what he does because he loves it, plain and simple. This is clear from the way his eyes light up when you reach out to him to discuss writing and literature, from the way he gestures dramatically when the subject of his favorite novel comes up, and from his dedication to showing his students what works and what doesn’t in the world of writing. Continue reading