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Born in Montreal in 1922, Mavis Gallant left a career as a leading journalist in that city to move to Paris in 1950 to write short stories for a living. She soon began publishing stories on a regular basis in The New Yorker. Her world-wide reputation has been established by books such as From the Fifteenth District and Home Truths, which won the Governor General’s Award in 1982. In 1996, The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant was published to universal acclaim. She has received several honorary degrees from Canadian universities and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1993. In 2001 she became the first winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life. She died in Paris on February 18, 2014.

Award History

Selection Committee Citation

“Governor General’s Literary Award-winner Mavis Gallant enjoys an international reputation as a contemporary master of short fiction. A regular contributor to The New Yorker, Gallant has made her home in Paris for more than 40 years. Among her best-known collections are The Pegnitz Junction, From the Fifteenth District, and Home Truths.

A Companion of the Order of Canada, Gallant has been writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto and guest artist at the Banff Centre, and she was the recipient of the Tribute at the 1993 International Festival of Authors (Harbourfront).

Mavis Gallant was touched when she heard that she was to receive the first Matt Cohen Award honouring a fellow Canadian writer she admired so greatly. She felt she had received much from him when she met him while he was visiting Paris. In speaking of the award, she said, ‘I look upon it as one of the greatest honours of my career, because it perpetuates the writing life of someone who was, I believe, nothing else than a writer.’”

— 2000 Matt Cohen Award Committee (Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, and Wayne Grady)

Program History