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Mavis wasn’t crazy about Mordecai

Here’s an excerpt from the interview Jhumpa Lahiri did with Mavis Gallant in the new issue of Granta. (We just thought it was funny…)

MG: I remember one of the people around in that winter of 1950-51, and who I moved to the Right Bank to get away from, was Mordecai Richler. He was a bit of a brat. He was much younger. I’d met him in Montreal.


That winter everyone in the world was around Paris that I knew, practically. And I realized he didn’t like it at all. For one thing, he couldn’t speak any French. Though he came from Montreal, he couldn’t say, “Pass the salt.” He couldn’t say anything.


One day Mordecai came drifting over and he sat down and he grabbed the book out of my hand that I was reading. It was The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen’s great novel.


And he read some in a mocking voice. A mocking English voice that he didn’t do very well. And he said, “You know, if you go on reading this crap you’re never going to get anywhere.” So I just took the book back.