Sunday, October 20, 2013

Modern Fiction: "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce

At first glance Harold Fry is a sad, lonely English milquetoast, the human equivalent of a potted geranium. “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” Rachel Joyce’s first novel, contrives a way to shake him out of his monotonous life and send him on a voyage of self-discovery. Harold will learn that there is more to life than mowing one’s lawn. Readers will learn that one man’s quiet timidity should not be taken at face value. Potted geraniums have feelings too.

Ms. Joyce’s novel, a sentimental nominee for this year’s Man Booker Prize, has a premise that is simple and twee. One day Harold receives a letter from an old acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy. Queenie is dying at a hospice that is 627 miles north of Harold’s home near the English Channel. When Harold reads the letter, he responds with a tearful “I um. Gosh.” Then he writes her a postcard and walks down his road to mail it. Then he keeps on going. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

For the first time in history, the Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to a Canadian. Alice Munro, one of the world’s most respected and admired writers, was announced this morning as the winner of the prize in an especially notable year: one in which she has announced her retirement.
The 82-year-old author of 14 books of short stories is only the 13th woman to win the world’s most prestigious literary award. Earlier this year she announced her intention to stop writing, stating that her most recent book, Dear Life, would be her last.

“I’m amazed and very grateful,” Ms. Munro said in a statement read by her longtime editor, Douglas Gibson, Thursday morning. “I’m particularly glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians. I’m happy, too, that this will bring more attention to Canadian writing.” Mr. Gibson called the Nobel decision “wonderful news for all of us. Canada has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature.” He added: “People have asked if I’m surprised. No, I’m not surprised. She deserves it. It’s about time, but it’s wonderful that this has now happened.”
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