|Canadian born author Mavis Gallant has received the 2002 Rea Award for the Short Story. The award, given annually, provides a $30,000 prize to winners. Gallant has penned over a hundred stories, the first of which were published in the early 1950s in The New Yorker, which continues to publish her to this day. Her stories have been celebrated with over a dozen volumes collecting her work throughout her career. In 1996 McClelland and Stewart published the 900-page now out-of-print The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant. She has also written two novels, Green Water, Green Sky (1969) and A Fairly Good Time(1970), as well as a play, What is to be Done? (1984).
The late Michael M. Rea, a publisher and collector of art and first-edition short stories, established the Rea Award in 1986 to honor a living United States or Canadian writer who has made significant contribution to the short story form. The award, the only one of its kind (exclusively for short fiction, that is), is administered by the Dungannon Foundation, a name Rea chose as a tribute to his Irish heritage, from which he is said to have drawn his love of the short story. Since its inception, however, Rea has left the judging process for the award to the discretion of three notable literary figures. This year's jurors were writers Deborah Eisenberg, Alice Munro and Joy Williams.
Gallant, an only child born in 1922, has been described by Booklist as "a master of the short story who breaks every rule of the form." The eighty-year-old author will have a new collection of stories compiled by best-selling author Michael Ondaatje published by The New York Review of Books in November 2002 entitled, Paris Stories. Paris has long been the author's home, although she has retained her Canadian citizenship over the years. She often writes of expatriates and themes of dislocation. Her collection, Home Truths, won a Governor General's Award in 1981.
In a statement to the press on the April 2002 selection of Gallant, the Jurors said:
Mavis Gallant has shown us over and over again what a marvel a short story can be. You can start to read any one of her stories and you are at once swept away -- captivated, amazed, moved -- by the grace of her sentences, the ease of her wit, the suppleness of her narrative, the complexity and originality of her perfectly convincing characters. She is a fearless writer, apparently equal to representing on paper any aspect of mind or time, however subtle, intractable, or evanescent.