Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

October 11, 2013

Alice MunroAlice Munro, 82, received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature along with $1.2 million dollars. Having missed the initial phone call from the Swedish Academy, she first heard the news through her voicemail. Beloved writer of short stories, she is the thirteenth woman and second Canadian author to win. Canadian-born Saul Bellow won in 1976. However, Bellow lived in the United States and was mostly associated with Chicago. Ms. Munro has published fourteen collections of short stories. When announcing the winner, the Swedish Academy referred to her as “the master of the contemporary short story.” The Nobel Committee also said her works “often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning."

Ms. Munro is credited for transforming the structural design of the modern short story by beginning in an unpredictable place and shifting back and forth through time. Her fiction is also known for its sparse nature and psychological themes. Having recently announced her intention to retire from writing, Dear Life, a collection published last year, is likely to be her last. The author said, of her decision, “Not that I didn't love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you're my age, you don't wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be." Some of her most well known books include Dance of the Happy Shades, The Love of a Good Woman, and Who Do You Think You Are.  

During an interview shortly after Munro found out about her win, she said, “It just seems impossible. It seems just so splendid a thing to happen, I can’t describe it. It’s more than I can say. I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” The Nobel Prize for Literature is an annual award given to "the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Last year’s prize went to Mo Yan of China. Recent winners include Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and German novelist Herta Muller.


Sources: The New York Times,

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