The English Short Story in Canada

From the Dawn of Modernism to the 2013 Nobel Prize


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About the Book

In 2013, the Nobel Prize for Literature was for the first time awarded to a short story writer, and to a Canadian, Alice Munro. The award focused international attention on a genre that had long been thriving in Canada, particularly since the 1960s. This book traces the development and highlights of the English-language Canadian short story from the late 19th century up to the present. The history as well as the theoretical approaches to the genre are covered, with in-depth examination of exemplary stories by prominent writers such as Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.

About the Author(s)

Reingard M. Nischik is professor and chair of American Literature at the University of Konstanz in Germany. She has published extensively on Canadian, American, and comparative literature. A three-time winner of the Best Book Award of the Margaret Atwood Society, she is one of the most renowned and productive scholars of Canadian literature studies internationally.

Bibliographic Details

Reingard M. Nischik
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6859-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2807-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

A Note on Terminology ix

Introduction 1

Part One: History

 1. The Modernist Canadian Short Story: Forging a Tradition 15

 2. The Modernist Canadian and American Short Story: A Comparative Approach 28

 3. The Canadian Short Story Since 1967: Between (Post)Modernism and (Neo)Realism 48

 4. The Noble Genre: Alice Munro Brings the Nobel Prize in Literature to Canada 71

Part Two: Approaches

 5. “Pen Photographs”: On Short Story Poetics and the Canadian Short Story Cycle 85

 6. Multiple Challenges: The Canadian Artist Story and Gender 95

 7. Gender and Genre: Margaret Atwood’s Short Stories and Short Fictions 106

 8. Multiple Liminality: Aging in the Canadian Short Story 118

 9. Liminal Spaces, Liminal States: Crossing the Canada−U.S. Border in Canadian Border Stories 135

10. Cultural Locations of Ethnicity: Vancouver Short Fiction by First Nations and Chinese Canadian Writers in English 150

Part Three: Analyses

11. (Un-)Doing Gender: Alice Munro, “Boys and Girls” 165

12. Canadian Artist Stories: John Metcalf, “The Strange Aberration of Mr. Ken Smythe” 176

13. Blending Indigenous and Western Traditions of Storytelling: Thomas King’s Short Fiction 189

14. Crossing Generic Borders: Margaret Atwood’s Short Prose Collection The Tent 203

Chapter Notes 211

Works Cited 225

Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Nischik has written another landmark study…the book is likely to give the sort of pleasure experienced when reuniting with a friend of long standing, whose conversation is sure to delight and enlighten in equal measure. The volume forms a tightly-knit whole, packed with information”—Canadian Literature
  • “Here is as thorough and detailed an overview of the Canadian short story in English as might be found, tracing its trajectory broadly while also highlighting well-chosen examples by the form’s most eminent practitioners.”—Robert Thacker, Professor of Canadian Studies and English, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York
  • “Nischik’s book is the most comprehensive work on the Canadian short story out there. It provides an excellent overview of the genre’s development and prevalent themes as well as close readings of individual stories…a must-read for anyone involved with Canadian short fiction.”—Caroline Rosenthal, President of the Association of Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries and Professor of American Studies at the University of Jena, Germany
  • “Nischik lucidly analyzes the evolution, breadth, and finesse of Canada’s national art form. This important study celebrates the formidable contributions of well-known authors and introduces readers to the next generation of Canadian short-story writers.”—Marlene Goldman, Professor of English, University of Toronto, Canada
  • “This is an important book by one of our foremost scholars on the Canadian short story and will prove invaluable to both scholars and students alike.”—J. Brooks Bouson, Professor of English, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois.