A huge and imposingly accomplished collection--the sort that calls for our immediate reassessment of a writer's career--displaying more than a half-century of work from the Canadian-born Francophile whose wry explorations of alienation and culture conflict typify the kind of sophistication associated with the New Yorker (where virtually all of these 52 tales first appeared). In a superb Preface, Gallant reveals (in comparatively little space) much about her life as a cross-cultural journalist and fiction writer and also speculates fruitfully on the sources of her stories in family relationships and personal experience. The stories, drawn from seven previous volumes, are arranged chronologically, according to the decade (beginning in the 1930s) in which each story is set. The tales include such gems of ironic understatement as ""The Moslem Wife,"" ""In the Tunnel,"" ""Speck's Idea,"" and ""The Pegnitz Junction."" The volume also contains collections of linked stories about the obviously autobiographical Linnet Muir, whose uneasy, increasingly distant relationship with her youth in Montreal both frustrates and empowers her imagination, and about the French writer Henri Grippes (one of Gallant's happiest and wittiest inventions). A book whose time has come, showcasing the work of a master who should finally be recognized as such.