The literary community took a big hit with the news that Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant has died in Paris at the age of 91. The National Post Books Twitter account tweeted that Gallant's publisher confirmed the rumor Tuesday morning.
During her lifetime, Gallant, a very private writer, authored two novels and a play, but is most celebrated for her short story collections — of which there are many. Many, many, many. The Globe and Mail writes of Gallant's work:
A specialist in writing about outsiders trying to insinuate themselves into alien situations and cultures, her narratives move in waves of dialogue, observation and lashing tension. Reading her stories gives one a sense of a clock ticking, a door creaking open, or of an emotional wound about to be inflicted.
In June, The Atlantic's Joe Fassler called Gallant's work "way vivid" and "way under appreciated," and for Gallant's 91st birthday in October, Bert Archer of Canadian-based Hazlitt wrote of Gallant that the author, often in the shadow of fellow Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, was "our other perfect short story writer."
Gallant's short stories often appeared in The New Yorker — for more than five decades, if you're counting — and her voice has become a hallmark of the fiction that's defined the magazine. Here, from 2013, Margaret Atwood reads Gallant's “Voices Lost in Snow,” which appeared in the in The New Yorker in 1976.
A farewell to Gallant wouldn't be complete without a look back at the author in her own words — a peek into the mind of a writer, a journalist, a thinker, and an artist whose sensibilities synthesized on the page in such a unique, multidimensional way to which so many readers responded. In The Paris Review's famous Art of Fiction interview series, Daphne Kalotay interviews Gallant. "I write every day," Gallant says. "It is not a burden. It is the way I live."
Gallant will be missed.