The eighteen stories in Gabrielle Roy’s Street of Riches centre upon the bittersweet experiences of a young girl growing up in the francophone community of St. Boniface, Manitoba. In the persona of her narrator Christine, Roy transfigures the incidents and characters of her own childhood, reflecting with gentle irony upon her youthful awakening to the beauty and the sorrow of life. Acclaimed upon its original publication in French in 1955, this superb collection infuses the authenticity of memoir with the timeliness and universality of the best imaginative art.
Street of Riches won the Governor General’s Award for 1957.
Gabrielle Roy was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba, in 1909. Her parents were part of the large Quebec emigration to western Canada in the late nineteenth century. The youngest of eight children, she studied in a convent school for twelve years, then taught school herself, first in isolated Manitoba villages and later in St. Boniface.
In 1937 Roy travelled to Europe to study drama, and during two years spent in London and Paris she began her writing career. The approaching war forced her to return to Canada, and she settled in Montreal.
Roy’s first novel, The Tin Flute, ushered in a new era of realism in Quebec fiction with its compassionate depiction of a working-class family in Montreal’s Saint-Henri district. Her later fiction often turned for its inspiration to the Manitoba of her childhood and her teaching career.
In 1947 Roy married Dr. Marcel Carbotte, and after a few years in France, they settled in Quebec City, which was to remain their home. Roy complemented her fiction with essays, reflective collections, and three children’s books. Her many honours include three Governor General’s Awards, France’s Prix Fémina, and Quebec’s Prix David.
Gabrielle Roy died in Quebec City, Quebec, in 1983.