A Gallant Writer Celebrated

“In the Giscardian late 1970's, Grippes was welcomed as the writer who had re-established the male as hero, whose left-wing heartbeat could be heard, loyally thumping, behind the armor of his right-wing traditional prose…The fitfulness of voters is such that, having got the government they wanted, they were now reading nothing but the right-wing press. Perhaps a steady right-wing heartbeat ought to set the cadence for a left-wing outlook, with a complex, bravely conservative heroine contained within the slippery but unyielding walls of left-wing style.”
– Mavis Gallant, “Grippes et Poche”

The intricate beauty of Mavis Gallant’s fiction is showcased in this tribute program.
This program celebrates the remarkable writer Mavis Gallant. A long-time contributor to The New Yorker, in the 1950s Canadian-born Gallant quit a steady journalism job to move to Paris and take a risk on fiction writing. In an era when this was still an uncommon choice for woman, she won her gamble. A lifetime of writing fiction and non-fiction credits has garnered many awards and honors including an honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Matt Cohen Prize; and the Rea Award for the Short Story. Among many collections of short stories, the tale featured on this program, “Grippes and Poche,” chronicles an epic relationship between a wily French novelist and a tax collector. It was published in Gallant’s collection Overhead in a Balloon: Twelve Stories of Paris.

Gallant made a rare visit from her home in Paris to Symphony Space to read her own story. She was joined that evening by a number of literary luminaries who gathered on stage to pay tribute to a writer many of them said was an inspiration. These included the poet Edward Hirsch, and the writers Russell Banks, Michael Ondaatje, and Jhumpa Lahiri, whose introductory remarks we have included in this program.

Grippes and Poche, by Mavis Gallant, read by the author

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit Symphony Space