Alice Munro wins the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature.

October 22, 2013 § Leave a comment


Alice Munro, the renowned Canadian short-story writer whose visceral work explores the tangled relationships between men and women, small-town existence and the fallibility of memory, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.

As a child “books seem to me to be magic, and I wanted to be part of the magic,” Munro once told The Guardian.

Ms. Munro, widely beloved for her spare and psychologically astute fiction that is deeply revealing of human nature, appeared to be more of a purely literary choice for the award. She revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place then moving backward or forward in time, and brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada.

Frequently compared to Chekhov and Mansfield for the deft originality of her short stories, she had always been among the favourites to win, alongside novelist Haruki Murakami and Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich.

It is a victory that has delighted many of her literary colleagues as well as her devoted readership – to whom she has always seemed something of a cherished secret. That she has been frequently omitted from conventional lists of the greatest writers of her age is perhaps because of her chosen form, the short story, as well as the apparent narrowness of her palette, since most of her works explore the warp and weft of small-town life in Western Ontario.

Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, issued a statement praising Ms. Munro as the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel in literature. “Canadians are enormously proud of this remarkable accomplishment, which is the culmination of a lifetime of brilliant writing,” he said.

Ms. Munro, 82, explained that she had decided to stop writing because she had been working since she was about 20 years old.

“That’s a long time to be working, and I thought, maybe it’s time to take it easy,” she said. “But this may change my mind.”


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