Books: Exiles Home Truths: By Mavis Gallant

By Mavis Gallant Random House; 330 PAGES; $17.95

Mavis Gallant is an English-Canadian writer who has spent most of her adult life in France. Thus it is not surprising that her natural subject is the varieties of spiritual exile. Expatriates, orphans, refugees and misfits make up the cast in her two novels and scores of stories. Home Truths, her sixth collection of short fiction, catches her characters in full flight from family, religion and country. All are bearers of a metaphorical "true passport" that transcends nationality and signifies internal freedom. For some this serves as a safe-conduct to independence. For others it is a guarantee of loneliness and despair.

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