STOCKHOLM – Alice Munro was celebrated for her “clean, transparent, subtle and stunningly precise” prose Tuesday as her daughter Jenny accepted the Nobel Prize for literature on her mother’s behalf.
“Munro writes about what are usually called ordinary people, but her intelligence, compassion, astonishing power of perception enable her to give their lives a remarkable dignity,” Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said during a formal ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall.
“The trivial and trite are intertwined with the amazing and unfathomable, but never at the cost of contradiction. If you have never before fantasized about the strangers you see on a bus, you begin doing so after reading Alice Munro.”
Munro was named this year’s Nobel laureate on Oct. 10 but was too unwell to travel to the Swedish capital to accept in person.
At Tuesday’s ceremony, Jenny Munro received the Nobel Medal, a diploma and a document confirming the C$1.2 million award.
Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the board of the Nobel Foundation, acknowledged the writer — who was in Victoria at the home of her daughter Sheila — at the outset of the ceremony.
“We send our warmest greetings to Alice Munro, who was unable to come to Stockholm. We are glad that Jenny Munro is here to receive the prize on behalf of her mother.”
Raised in the southwestern Ontario farming community of Wingham, Munro is only the 13th woman to receive the distinction.
The prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and economics were also awarded during the ceremony. The peace prize was presented at an earlier event.
The ceremony was to be followed by a lavish dinner to be attended by Sweden’s royal family as well as other dignitaries.
Munro has previously won the Man Booker International Prize for her entire body of work, as well as two Scotiabank Giller Prizes (for 1998’s “The Love of a Good Woman” and 2004’s “Runaway”), three Governor General’s Literary Awards (for her 1968 debut “Dance of the Happy Shades,” 1978’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” and 1986’s “The Progress of Love”), the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the inaugural Marian Engel Award and the American National Book Critics Circle Award.
Born in 1931 in the southwestern Ontario farming community of Wingham, Munro later moved to Victoria with Jim Munro, with whom she had three children. The couple eventually divorced and Munro moved back to Ontario. She eventually remarried Gerald Fremlin, who died earlier this year.