Famed Montreal born writer Mavis Gallant dies
TORONTO (AP) -- Mavis Gallant, the Montreal-born writer who carved out an international reputation as a master short-story author while living in Paris for decades, has died at age 91, her publisher said Tuesday.
The bilingual Quebecois started out as a journalist and went on to publish well over 100 short stories in her lauded career, many of them in the New Yorker magazine and in collections such as "The Other Paris, "Across the Bridge" and "In Transit." She also wrote two novels, "Green Water, Green Sky" and "A Fairly Good Time," as well as the play "What is to be Done?"
Although she later lived abroad, Gallant received several high-profile honors in Canada, including a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Governor General's Literary Award for her story collection, "Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories."
Random House in Canada confirmed the death. Although at least 120 of her stories appeared in The New Yorker, her following in the United States remained small. Many of her books are out of print, short stories are not best sellers and as a Canadian living in Paris she often wrote about other cultures.
American author Joyce Carol Oates compared Gallant to another Canadian short story master, Alice Munro, who captured the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature.
"Mavis Gallant enormous influence on Alice Munro," she wrote on Twitter. "Perhaps the Nobel Prize should have been shared at no loss to two great Canadian writers."
Another Canadian literary luminary, Margaret Atwood, tweeted: "Very sad to hear that MavisGallant has died... wonderful, scrappy person, wonderful writer, fascinating life."
Though Montreal's literary scene was thriving -- with writers including Irving Layton, Mordecai Richler and Leonard Cohen -- Gallant left Canada for Europe in 1950. She eventually settled in Paris, where she felt she could live solely as a fiction author as opposed to having to supplement her income elsewhere.
"The attitude to a writer was very important, and the attitude to a writer here is one I haven't seen elsewhere," she said in the 2006 Bravo! television documentary "Paris Stories: The Writing of Mavis Gallant."
"I found for the first time in my life a society where you could say you're a writer and not be asked for three months' rent in advance."
Born Mavis Leslie Young in 1922, Gallant was an only child in a fractured, English-speaking Protestant family: her father died when she was young and her mother remarried. Starting from age four, she attended numerous boarding schools in Canada and the U.S., many of which were French and had no other English-speaking students besides herself.
After graduation, Gallant returned to Montreal and landed an entry-level stint at the National Film Board and then a job as a reporter for the Montreal Standard.
In 1942, Gallant married Winnipeg musician John Gallant, but they divorced five years later.
Gallant didn't often write about herself, but some of her early life is revealed in a series of stories in the collection "Home Truths." She invents a young Canadian woman, Linnet Muir, who lived in New York for a while and then was hired by a Montreal newspaper during World War II.
Like Muir, Gallant remembers hearing her boss say the only reason they hired her is because so many men were off at war.
Authors who contributed to Gallant's collections -- either through introductions, after words or editing -- include Richler, Michael Ondaatje, and Russell Banks.
In a 1999 interview, she told literary magazine Paris Review that writing is like "a love affair: the beginning is the best part."
"I write every day," she said. "It is not a burden. It is the way I live."