Earlier this year, the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro announced her retirement, at the age of 82: “It’s nice to go out with a bang,” she said when she won a Canadian book award for Dear Life. Now she has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. The dramatic and unexpected coincidence – “I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win” – is like the plot of one of Munro’s own stories: understated and elegantly structured. The Nobel is a bang by anyone’s standards.
Munro was born in 1931 and grew up in Wingham, Ontario, where her mother was a schoolteacher and her father a fur and poultry farmer. Her early compulsion to write is captured in the story “Cortes Island” from the collection The Love of a Good Woman (1998):
It seemed that I had to be a writer as well as a reader. I bought a school notebook and tried to write – did write, pages that started off authoritatively and then went dry, so that I had to tear them out and twist them up in hard punishment and put them in the garbage can. I did this over and over again until I had only the notebook cover left. Then I bought another notebook and started the whole process once more. The same cycle – excitement and despair, excitement and despair.
Alice Munro is acclaimed for her finely tuned storytelling, which is characterized by clarity & psychological realism.
If you have never read any of Ms. Munro’s work, here are a few suggestions you may enjoy investigating for yourself:
Selected Stories (1996)
Vintage Munro (2004)
Dance of the Happy Shades (1968)
Lives of Girls and Women (1971)
Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974)
The Beggar Maid (1978)
The Moons of Jupiter (1982)
The Progress of Love (1986)
Friend of My Youth (1990)
Open Secrets (1994)
The Love of a Good Woman (1998)
The View from Castle Rock (2006)
Too Much Happiness(2009)
Dear Life (2012)