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.”

For Ms. Munro’s Canadian publisher, McClelland & Stewart’s Ellen Seligman, the news arrived after much anticipation. “I’m overwhelmed with excitement,” she said when reached by phone Thursday. “We’ve heard these rumours each year, and we were guardedly optimistic yesterday, with all the social media going wild.”
“We are bursting with excitement and pride,” she continued. “What an honour for such a great writer, a writer who has always stuck simply to what she does. It’s well deserved.”

While it may be said that Ms. Munro has stuck simply to what she does, what she does is in no way simple – though, on the surface, it sometimes seems so: Her stories, frequently set in Southern Ontario, are often accounts of domestic situations and working-class people. But beyond their surface, familiarity. They are deeply psychological explorations of the complexities of contemporary existence.

When reached Thursday morning, Brad Martin, president and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, echoed the sentiment that Ms. Munro’s win is a remarkable thing for Canadian writing. But beyond our national pride, it’s simply the just recognition of one of the finest writers of our age.
“I don’t think there’s a better short story writer in the world,” he said.
Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including three of Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards and two of its Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England’s W. H. Smith Book Award, the United States’ National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

Alice Munro divides her time between Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron, and Comox, British Columbia.

Alice Munro bibliography:

Dance of the Happy Shades – 1968 (winner of the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction)
Lives of Girls and Women – 1971
Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You – 1974
Who Do You Think You Are? – 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General's Award for Fiction; also published as The Beggar Maid)
The Moons of Jupiter – 1982 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
The Progress of Love – 1986 (winner of the 1986 Governor General's Award for Fiction)
Friend of My Youth – 1990 (winner of the Trillium Book Award)
Open Secrets – 1994 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
The Love of a Good Woman – 1998 (winner of the 1998 Giller Prize)
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage - 2001 (recently republished as "Away From Her")
Runaway – 2004 (winner of the 2004 Giller Prize)
The View from Castle Rock – 2006
Too Much Happiness – 2009
Dear Life – 2012

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