Canadian “Chekhov” Alice Munro wins Literature Nobel

11 Oct 2013


Canadian author Alice Munro, 82, the celebrated ''master of the contemporary short story,'' has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature, the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences announced Thursday.

Alice Munro, © shapton 09

The Nobel committee said it left a phone message to inform her of the good news as it failed to immediately contact her after the announcement of the prestigious award.

Munro, with her realist tales that examine myriad themes, has also won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009.

The Nobel Prize committee compared Munro to Anton Chekhov, the 19th century Russian who is considered one of the greatest short story writers of all times.

"Munro is acclaimed for her finely tuned storytelling, which is characterised by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov," the committee said.

"Her stories are often set in small town environments, where the struggle for a socially acceptable existence often results in strained relationships and moral conflicts -- problems that stem from generational differences and colliding life ambitions. Her texts 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."

Alice Munro was born on the 10 July 1931 in Wingham, in the Canadian province of Ontario. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a fox farmer.

After finishing high school, she began studying journalism and English at the University of Western Ontario, but broke off her studies when she got married in 1951.

Together with her husband, she settled in Victoria, British Columbia, where the couple opened a bookstore.

Munro started writing stories in her teens, but published her first book-length work in 1968, the story collection Dance of the Happy Shades, which received considerable attention in Canada.

She began publishing in various magazines from the beginning of the 1950's. In 1971 she published a collection of stories entitled Lives of Girls and Women, which critics have described as a Bildungsroman.

Munro is primarily known for her short stories and has published many collections over the years. Her works include Who Do You Think You Are? (1978), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), Runaway (2004), The View from Castle Rock (2006) and Too Much Happiness (2009).

Her collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) – became the basis of the film Away from Her from 2006, directed by Sarah Polley.

Her most recent collection is Dear Life (2012).

Munro currently resides in Clinton, near her childhood home in southwestern Ontario.

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