This survey traces the development, from its nineteenth- century origins in the sketch and tale, of perhaps the most distinctive and strongest genre in Canadian literature - one which has brought international recognition to many of its writers in the 1980s. The beginnings of a tradition of realism are explored in the work of early writers such as Roberts, Seton, Knister, Callaghan, and Garner. Later chapters discuss a wide range of contemporary writers and examine
work by those who inherited that tradition, as well as those who rebelled against it. Individual chapters are devoted to the three most important practitioners of the genre: Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, and Margaret Atwood.