We all know the news, the winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature 2013 is Canadian author Alice Munro!
Alice Munro is the first Canadian to win a Nobel Prize and she has been named “the female Chekhov” and she is cited as “master of the modern short story”.
Alice Munro is the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Many of Munro’s stories are set in Huron County, Ontario. Her strong regional focus is one of the features of her fiction. Another is the omniscient narrator who serves to make sense of the world. Many compare Munro’s small-town settings to writers from the rural South of the United States. Her female characters, though, are more complex. Much of Munro’s work exemplifies the literary genre known as Southern Ontario Gothic.
Munro’s work is often compared with the great short-story writers. In her stories, as in Chekhov’s, plot is secondary and “little happens.” As with Chekhov, Garan Holcombe notes: “All is based on the epiphanic moment, the sudden enlightenment, the concise, subtle, revelatory detail.” Munro’s work deals with “love and work, and the failings of both. She shares Chekhov’s obsession with time and our much-lamented inability to delay or prevent its relentless movement forward.”
A frequent theme of her work—particularly evident in her early stories—has been the dilemmas of a girl coming of age and coming to terms with her family and the small town she grew up in. In recent work such as Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) and Runaway (2004) she has shifted her focus to the travails of middle age, of women alone, and of the elderly. It is a mark of her style for characters to experience a revelation that sheds light on, and gives meaning to, an event.
Munro’s prose reveals the ambiguities of life: “ironic and serious at the same time,” “mottoes of godliness and honor and flaming bigotry,” “special, useless knowledge,” “tones of shrill and happy outrage,” “the bad taste, the heartlessness, the joy of it.” Her style places the fantastic next to the ordinary, with each undercutting the other in ways that simply and effortlessly evoke life. As Robert Thacker notes:
“Munro’s writing creates… an empathetic union among readers, critics most apparent among them. We are drawn to her writing by its verisimilitude – not of mimesis, so-called and… ‘realism’ – but rather the feeling of being itself… of just being a human being.”
Many critics have asserted that Munro’s stories often have the emotional and literary depth of novels. Some have asked whether Munro actually writes short stories or novels. Alex Keegan, writing in Eclectica, gave a simple answer: “Who cares? In most Munro stories there is as much as in many novels.”
Munro’s story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” was adapted for the screen and directed by Sarah Polley as Away from Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent.
Dance of the Happy Shades – 1968 (winner of the 1968 Governor General’s Award for Fiction)
Lives of Girls and Women – 1971
Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You – 1974
Who Do You Think You Are? – 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General’s Award for Fiction; also published as The Beggar Maid)
The Moons of Jupiter – 1982 (nominated for a Governor General’s Award)
The Progress of Love – 1986 (winner of the 1986 Governor General’s Award for Fiction)
Friend of My Youth – 1990 (winner of the Trillium Book Award)
Open Secrets – 1994 (nominated for a Governor General’s Award)
The Love of a Good Woman – 1998 (winner of the 1998 Giller Prize)
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage – 2001 (republished as Away From Her)
Runaway – 2004 (winner of the 2004 Giller Prize) ISBN 1-4000-4281-X
The View from Castle Rock – 2006
Too Much Happiness – 2009
Dear Life – 2012
Selected Stories – 1996
No Love Lost – 2003
Vintage Munro – 2004
Carried Away: A Selection of Stories – 2006
Alice Munro’s Best: A Selection of Stories – 2008
New Selected Stories – 2011