Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize: 'Master of the contemporary story' -

Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize: ‘Master of the contemporary story’

Short-story author celebrated for ‘finely tuned storytelling’


(CP photo)

Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for literature.

The author has been no stranger to accolades during her distinguished career as one of the world’s top short fiction writers. When she was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, judges called her work “practically perfect.” Here at home, she has been honoured with three Governor General’s Literary Awards and, most recently, a third Trillium Book Award.

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There had been speculation that Munro would win the award. Bookies at Ladbrokes suggested it was a matter of 4:1 odds — just behind Haruki Murakami.

In July, Munro, 82, announced her retirement, telling the New York Times that “Dear Life” would be her last book. “Put your money on it,” she said.

She went on to win the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize at the International Festival of Authors.

In her inteview with the Times this summer, Munro admitted she was not always comfortable with being a short story writer:

“While working on my first five books, I kept wishing I was writing a novel. I thought until you wrote a novel, you weren’t taken seriously as a writer. It used to trouble me a lot, but nothing troubles me now, and besides, there has been a change. I think short stories are taken more seriously now than they were.”

As for reaction to this morning’s honour?

Update: Contacted in Victoria this morning by the Canadian Press, Munro said she is delighted and terribly surprised. “I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win.”

Related link: A list of Canadians who have won the Nobel Prize. 

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Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize: ‘Master of the contemporary story’

  1. Kudos to Alice Munro! We are all so proud of your accomplishments!

  2. Still not good enough for David Gilmour though.
    Congratulations, and some of her books are now priority on my to read list

  3. Wonderful! Congratulations Alice Munro!

  4. Oh God, oh God, oh God. Now we are forever associated with this stupid genre. Oh God, oh God, oh God.

    • What stupid genre? Being associated to the likes of Guy de Maupassant is nothing stupid. Short stories are special gems.

      • What’s so great about Guy de Maupassant?
        Naturalistic short stories have permanently killed the adult male market for “serious” literature.
        People who enjoy this genre do so because they desperately need validation for their equally boring lives. If Munro can make art out of having tea with old Mrs. Franks one chilly September afternoon, maybe, just maybe your own relentless grind has meaning.

        • Southern Ontario Gothic, and a Canadian writer have now been recognized world-wide….and all you can do is whine about the hair on your chest…..? LOL

          • That’s better than you going around bragging about the hair on yours.

          • “Southern Ontario Gothic” LOLOL

        • It is amazing what some can make art out of. No one appreciates all form of arts. I prefer an old Van Eyck to a pile of rubbish on the floor. We all have our preferences.
          If you are so concerned about being associated with the stupid genre quit writing comments on Maclean’s and work on a serious-adult-male-type of literature worthy of a Nobel prize!

          • And if you’re so concerned to rebut criticism, why don’t you go work for the New York Review of Books, Loraine?

        • Huh?

          • Huh? is right. That’s basically the motto of the Can Lit.

            Obviously I was responding to Loraine’s asinine idea that I can’t have an opinion until *I* win a Nobel prize.

          • What??? “Wild Geese” by Martha Ostenso and “The Wars” by Timothy Findley…two exceptional examples of “Can Lit.”…..No “Huh?” about it, we have had some fantastic writers in our midst. We don’t always have to look “outside” for brilliance.

          • “Wild Geese is a Canadian novel of the historical fiction genre written by the author Martha Ostenso, first published in 1925 by Dodd, Mead and Company. The story is set on the prairies of Manitoba,
            Canada in the 1920s. The novel details characters struggling against
            victimization to achieve a better life and follow their respective
            passions. Although the novel is primarily a realist novel, it does contain naturalist themes, especially in the subject of comparing Canadian wild geese to the progression of time and the inevitability of fate, as well as pathetic fallacy elements.”

            Enough said. Prairies, struggle against victimhood, realism. Cliché-ridden junk.

            “The Wars is a 1977 novel by Timothy Findley that tells the story of a young Canadian officer in World War I.
            Nineteen-year-old Robert Ross tries to escape both his grief over his
            sister’s death and the social norms of oppressive Victorian[1]
            upper-class society by enlisting in the Great War. He is quickly drawn
            into the madness of war and commits “a last desperate act to declare his
            commitment to life in the midst of death.””

            Maybe a bit better, though attacking oppressive Victorian norms in 1977 is about as intellectually courageous as denouncing the Spanish Inquisition. I’d be more interested if he were a jingo, something against the grain of middle-class Canadian morality.

          • I am sorry but you can’t just read up on Wikipedia and dismiss the novels using THAT as your source. The young officer in Findley’s book is (spoiler alert) gay. The descriptions of battles and sex are raw and disturbing. It is worth a read because as always, Findley challenges readers to step outside their comfort zone. I challenge you to read the book. It is very short. I also challenge you to read the quirky and very enjoyable, Robert Kroetsch’s, “What the Crow Said”.

          • I wanted to point something out to you, Frank…Ostenso’s book was not “cliche-ridden junk” because she wrote it at a time when no one else was writing those stories. It is like Gabriel Roy’s “Tin Flute”. If you are the first one doing it, you are a maverick, not someone to be mocked as an imitator in an over-utilized genre.

          • “Comfort zone”? Gay sex and bullet wounds? Have you watched a movie in the past 20 years?

            Your Kroetsch challenge is declined. I’m too busy catching up on the 10 000 other Canadian short story writers and novelists who have written about “a town somewhere on the weather-beaten border between Alberta and Saskatchewan . . . [as] this prairie municipality — so remote from the rest of the world that its citizens aren’t sure which province they live in — becomes somehow locked inside its own world of patience, yearning and willful struggle with nature.” It’s educational, since, like 95% of my fellow Canadians under 90, I have absolutely zero connection to rural hope & heartbreak.

            Good point about Ostenso. She really paved the way for three generations of dreck. She deserves a nation’s thanks.

            Finally, if you name-drop books without summaries or reasons for your recommendation, expect people to (at most) Google them and read the Wikipedia entries.

          • While I appreciate you giving me that insight into current movies, you might remember that you did say Findley’s novel was published in 1977….when Brokeback Mountain was hardly on the scene.
            As for your admonishments, Frank, you misunderstand me. I don’t have ANY issue with you googling any of the books I mentioned on Wiki. What I have an issue with, Frank is you dismissing them out of hand by using a summary provided on Wiki when the books have all been internationally acclaimed. It isn’t just me that found the reads stunning. Others…many others have as well. As for dismissing Ostenso,…sure Frank, go ahead dismiss Jane Austen as well. However, your dismissal is petty because you HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK and yet you pronounce that it is “dreck”. Here’s some insight for you Frank…the shared human experience of feelings of isolation, loneliness and heartbreak have nothing to do with where you live. Being in a land that is rugged and rural is a metaphor used in literature to illustrate hopelessness and isolation but people can feel that in a crowded room full of loved ones.
            Now as for Robert Kroetsch’s novel and it is a novel, not a short story. The novel purposely is unclear about the locale and the time in which it is set. It is a highly acclaimed novel and a highly entertaining read. If you are going to dismiss every suggestion out of hand, Frank, no wonder you can’t find one that pleases you. You are like a child that refuses to try something because you are certain you will not like it.

          • But if I don’t like your first five suggestions, you will have a hundred others that will also nauseate me.

            I’ve read my share of Can Lit, lady. I’ve suffered. I’ve wept.

            “Internationally acclaimed.” By the Swedish middle class.

      • You are so right, Lorraine! Short stores are special gems. Who can forget the first time they read Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery” or any of James Thurber’s short stories. Walter Mitty was awesome but “The Catbird Seat” was my personal favorite.

        • Who can forget? Who can remember? I don’t know a single person who reads short stories, outside of the hammock-swinging over-60 set.

          • Or, to be fair, writers of short stories and their writing school teachers.

          • Frank, Frank, Frank. Why don’t you enlighten us about some of your favorite books and writers.

          • It is hard to find common ground with a Can Lit enthusiast. But among novelists I would say that Dostoevsky is undeniably a great writer, both for his power of description, the originality of his characters, and (most of all) the seriousness of his IDEAS.

            You read that right. Ideas in a novel. Not just emotions. Not just landscapes as metaphors for crowded rooms and heaving bosoms. Ideas about (in Dostoevsky’s case) the nature of Christian charity, the self-destructive character of evil, the future of Russian society in terms of these cosmic forces, and much else. The plots are also gripping: murders, love affairs, suicides, etc. Not one of them ends “And as she snuffed the candles she thought of him and all they’d gone through.”

          • “Canadian Lit enthusiast”…hmm, no not really…Lit enthusiast..yes, definitely. I have loved many books and because you have found “Canadian Lit” lacking, I wanted to make some suggestions for good reads, that is all. I would also make other suggestions that weren’t Canadian Lit. but this thread is about that. There are many good books that have no murders, suicides, etc or if they do, they are really “asides” to the story. I am thinking of Leon Uris, “QBVII” and Pearl Buck, “The Good Earth”. However, I also enjoy everything Dennis Lehane writes and those are all about murder and suicide. Happy reading Frank.

          • It’s never too late to get an education, healthcareinsider.