New Yorker writer Mavis Gallant, a Canadian but a long-time Paris resident, is a master of the short story. This collection pulls together 52 stories written from the 50s to the 90s, all of which, in precise, wry descriptions, capture a wide range of post-war realities that resonate far more than any jouralistic writing could. Gallant isn’t much interested in plot; most of her stories delve deep into character, conveying how history often traps people. That said, Gallant’s stories never fail to surprise. Now in her 80s, she’s one of the most fearless — and thrilling — short story writers alive.