Mavis Gallant

2002 Rea Award Winner Mavis Gallant
Photo: Miriam Berkley

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 17, 2002

Short story writer Mavis Gallant wins Rea prize

By Bob Hoover,
Post-Gazette Book editor

Mavis Gallant yesterday became the second Canadian in two years to win the $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story, one of America’s riches literary prizes. Last year’s winner was Alice Munro.

A native of Montreal, Gallant, 79 published her first story collection, The Other Paris, in 1956 and her latest, The Collected Stories of Mavis Gallant in 1996. Many of her 100 stories originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine.

The prize was initiated by the late Michael Rea, a Pittsburgh native who was executive with the Oliver Tyrone Corp. Rea, who died in 1996, started the award in 1986. Among the winters is Pittsburgh’s John Edgar Wideman.

The Litchfield County Times
New Milford, CT
April 26, 2002

$30,000 Award Goes to Gallant

By David Lombino

WASHINGON—The annual $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story, given for iterary power, originality and influence on the genre, was awarded last week to Mavis Gallant. The award was established in 1986 by Washington resident Michael M. Rea to encourage writers to maintain loyalty to the art of short fiction and to honor a living American or Canadian writer who “has made a significant contribution to the short story form.” It is the only award in the United States exclusively for the short story.

Over a 50-year career, Ms. Gallant is the author of more than 100 short stories, most of which were first published in The New Yorker, to which she continues to contribute. In addition to The Collected Stories of Mavis Gallant, published in 1996, she is the author of two novels, Green Water, Green Sky (1969) and A Fairly Good Time (1970), a play, “What is to be done? (1984), and a nonfiction work, Paris Journals: Selected Essays and Reviews (1986).

The New York Times has said she “radically reshaped the short story decade after decade,” and “Her characters do not flee from home; they start out homeless, spending their lives conniving at accommodation …. Gallant primes us to expect them to be good or bad, but never hints which are which; and in her stories tragedy can turn into comedy in a sentence…. In a real sense her style and attitude are her message.”

Past winners of the Rea Award include Alice Munro, Joy Williams, Richard Ford, Paul Bowles, Joyce Carol Oates and Tobias Wolff.

To administer the annual award, Mr. Rea established the Dungannon Foundation, named for his paternal hometown in Northern Ireland, to which he traced his love of the short story. He gave complete independence to an annual jury of three notable literary figures and did not participate in the selection process. Each juror selected two candidates, and the jury met in the spring to deliberate and choose a winner. Mr. Rea would personally call the winner immediately after the selection was made, a task he cherished. “The basic thrust of the award,” Mr. Rea noted, “is to foster a literary cause—to ennoble the form, to give it prestige.”

Mr. Rea died in 1996, but the Rea Award continues in the same fashion under the direction of his wife, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, photographer and curator. “He had often worried that after he passed away that I would have all of this work to do for the foundation, so we talked about finding a home for it, like a university,” said Mrs. Rea. “I knew after he died that I wanted to carry on the award exactly the way he had, and use the same passion that he put into it…. Running the award is a major joy for me…. every year I feel his presence.”

Michael Rea worked in real estate in the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., areas, and founded Harrea Broadcasting Inc.,. which owned and operated radio stations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. A passionate reader, he wrote short fiction and collected first editions of American short stories. Mr. Rea edited an anthology, “The American Story: Short Stories from· the Rea Award” (1994) and, through his company Sweetwater Editions, published “livre deluxe” editions of Issac Bashevis Singer’s Satan in Goray and Early American Stone Sculpture: Found in the Burying Grounds of New England. He also collected fine art and served as a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Dungannon Foundation also supports Rea Visiting Writers/Lecturers at the University of Virginia and Selected Shorts at Symphony Space in New York City, a weekly reading of short stories. Every year the award recipient gives a reading at a session of Selected Shorts,”and a recording of the reading is replayed on National Public Radio.

Palm Beach Daily News
April 23, 2002

Former journalist wins Rea Award

By Jan Sjostrom

Mavis Gallant has won the Dungannon Foundation’s annual $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story. The late Michael Rea, A Palm Beach resident, established the award, which recognizes a body of work, in 1986. Open to living Canadian and American writers, it is the only American prize for short stories.

Jurors are outstanding members of the literary field. This year’s jurors were past winners Deborah Eisenberg, Alice Munro and Joy Williams.

Gallant has written more than 100 short stories, most of which first appeared in The New Yorker. Her stories and novellas have been published in nine collections.

Born in Montreal in 1922, she was, in her words, “set afloat” after her father died and her mother remarried. She attended 17 public, convent and boarding schools.

She began her career as a newspaper reporter. In 1950, she left journalism to write fiction. She lives in Paris, but remains a Canadian citizen.

In their citation, the jurors wrote, “you can read any one of her stories (it does not matter if it is one you have read ten times before) 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.”