Set in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, the nine stories in this glittering collection reflect on the foibles and dilemmas of human relationships. An English family goes to the south of France for the sake of the father’s health, and to get away from an England of rationing and poverty. A displaced person turned French soldier in Algeria now makes a living as an actor in Paris. A group of selfish English expatriates on the Italian Riviera are incredulous that Mussolini and the Germans may affect their lives. A great writer’s quiet widow blossoms in widowhood, to the surprise and alarm of her children, who send a ten-year-old grandson to Switzerland to keep her company one Christmas. Full of wry humour and penetrating insights, this is Mavis Gallant at her most unforgettable.
Born in Montreal in 1922, Mavis Gallant left a career as a leading journalist in that city to move to Paris in 1950 to write.
Since that time she has been publishing stories on a regular basis in The New Yorker, many of which have been anthologized. Her world-wide reputation has been established by books such as From the Fifteenth District and Home Truths, which won the Governor General’s Award in 1982. In that same year she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, becoming a Companion of the Order in 1993, the year that she published Across the Bridge and was the recipient of a special tribute at the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors in Toronto. In 1996, The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant was published to universal acclaim. Paris Stories, a selection edited by Michael Ondaatje, appeared in 2002, and was followed by the companion volume Montreal Stories, edited by Russell Banks, in 2004.
Gallant is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has received several honorary degrees from Canadian universities and remains a much-sought-after public speaker. In 2001 she became the first winner of the Matt Cohen Award, and in 2002 she won the Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix and the Rea Award for the Short Story.
She continues to live in Paris.
“Mavis Gallant writes some of the most superbly crafted and perceptive stories of our time.”
–Globe and Mail
“Gallant’s fiction is so finely observed and so forbearing in the face of the shortcomings we ascribe to human nature that the reader might easily come away with the impression that these stories are narrated by God.”
“Superb…From the Fifteenth District brings us Mavis Gallant at the height of her powers.”
“I’m certain that there isn’t a finer living writer of fiction in the English language.
There couldn’t be.”
–Books in Canada
“One of Canada’s best short-story writers.”
–New Brunswick Reader
“Gallant achieves the extraordinarily difficult task of capturing a world and a way of thinking in these little masterpieces.…She is something of a magician: one can watch closely, but in the end her stories defy our rational senses, and the result is a type of literary magic.”
“When so many others are forgotten, Gallant will be there.”
–Globe and Mail
“Reading any one of Mavis Gallant’s stories is like viewing the entire universe through an electron microscope; in her hands fiction seems infinitely flexible and capacious. And all the complexity of insight, the breadth of understanding, the density of thought and intensity of feeling are delivered with thrilling charm, a thrilling lightness of touch.”
“One of the best that ever came out of this country.”