Paris Notebooks:

Essays & Reviews

“Riveting . . . rollicking . . . elegantly captures a changing France reckoning with the cultural revolutions of the mid-20th century.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Enthralling essays on the expatriate experience in Paris and shrewd literary criticism by one of the twentieth century’s finest writers. Mavis Gallant is revered as one of the great short story writers of her generation, but she was also an astute observer and formidable reporter. This selection of Gallant’s essays and reviews written between 1968 and 1985 begins with her impressions of the Parisian student uprising in May 1968. Originally published in The New Yorker, “The Events in May” inspired Wes Anderson’s film The French Dispatch and Gallant herself served as inspiration for the journalist portrayed by Frances McDormand.

Paris Notebooks presents a whole range of subjects portraying French society, ranging from architecture and literature to the gripping story of Gabrielle Russier, a young French schoolteacher driven to imprisonment, madness, and suicide as the result of an affair with one of her students. Also included are Gallant’s astute reviews of books by major figures such as Vladimir Nabokov, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, and Günter Grass. No matter what form she’s working in, Mavis Gallant’s flawless prose is always full of wit and acuity.

This edition includes a new foreword by acclaimed literary biographer Hermione Lee.

Paris Notebooks is part of Godine’s Nonpareil series: celebrating the joy of discover with books bound to be classics. See here for a complete list of Nonpareils.

Mavis Gallant (1922–2014) was born in Montreal and worked as a journalist at the Montreal Standard before moving to Europe to devote herself to writing fiction. In 1950, after traveling extensively, she settled in Paris, where she would remain for the rest of her life. Over the course of her career Gallant published more than one hundred stories and dispatches in The New Yorker. In 2002 she received the Rea Award for the Short Story and in 2004, the PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement.

Hermione Lee is a biographer and critic whose work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Tom Stoppard. She was awarded the Biographers’ Club Prize for Exceptional Contribution to Biography in 2018. In 2003, Lee was made a CBE, in 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship, and in 2023 she was made GBE (Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire) for services to English Literature. (Author photo credit Tom Pilston)