TORONTO (Reuters) - Mavis Gallant, a celebrated Canadian-born fiction writer who spent most of her life and career in Paris, died on Tuesday at her apartment in the French capital, her publisher said.
“We are deeply saddened by Mavis Gallant’s passing today,” McClelland & Stewart publisher Doug Pepper said in a statement. “Mavis was a stunning writer who transformed the short fiction form.”
Born in Montreal, Quebec in 1922, Gallant worked for a time as a journalist before moving to Paris in 1950 to pursue a career as a fiction writer. She married musician John Gallant in 1942, but they divorced five years later.
A fluent French speaker, she nonetheless wrote fiction exclusively in English.
Much like countrywoman Alice Munro, Gallant’s preferred style of fiction was the short story, and also like Munro, she found early success publishing in the New Yorker magazine.
In all, she produced 10 collections of short stories, along with two novels, a play, and several essays. Her 1981 collection “Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories” won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, which is one of Canada’s top literary prizes.
Known for her wit, story structure, and command of the English language, Gallant nevertheless distrusted attempts to analyze her work.
“If I thought about what I do, I think I’d stop writing,” she told the Guardian newspaper in 2009.
“The first flash of fiction is like a curtain going up on stage, and you wait to see what’s happening. The characters aren’t speaking to me, exactly, but I get lines of dialogue.”
Her last published work was “Going Ashore” in 2009, and McClelland & Stewart plans to release a collection of her journals next year.
Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by James Dalgleish