Review: From The Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant


The Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant

Publication date: December 16, 2014


From The Fifteenth District is a collection of short stories about European émigrés struggling to find their way in the world during pre and post WW II.  The stories have a somber feeling to them, with themes of relationships, aging, displacement and longing woven throughout it.  I preferred her short stories over the longer ones as they felt drawn out. Gallant’s stark writing style has a unique combination of being nonchalant and flippant.

As an example, here are some quotes From The Fifth District:

“His smile was like a sentence uttered too soon.”

“All that prevented him from weeping in the street was the thought that he had never seen a man do that.”

“I’ve discovered something else”, she said abruptly. “It is that sex and love have nothing in common. Only a coincidence, sometimes. You think the coincidence will go on and so you get married. I suppose that is what men are born knowing and women learn by accident.”

Gallant’s writing is sad, musical and  beautiful. If you read too much of her stories in one sitting, you may feel as if you’ve finished a Thanksgiving meal. I read the book in small bites –just enough to get a sweet taste of sorbet, but longing for more.

*** I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***

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