Sincerest congratulations to Alice Munro for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature!
What a beautiful statement to utter...
Long regarded as the master of the contemporary short story by many a writer, critic and reader, Munro has been a quintessential author in the Canadian literary scene for many years and it is so wonderful to see her acknowledged in such an international light.
For this, we can riff on many a thing about Alice Munro:
Munro is only the 13th women to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature
Upon hearing the news, and that indeed she was number 13 on the list, Munro remarked "can this be possible. It seems dreadful there's only 13 of us."
Out of 110 years of Nobel Prizes, only 13 to non-men seems pretty incriminating that the field of writing, or at the very least the prize-winning field of writing, is historically and presently dominated by men.
Munro's remark that one can't make decisions based on gender is a great point, but as we have been exposed to time and time again, it seems these societal disparities are ingrained, so it is nice to check one of in the "win" column for us non-dudes.
Munro is an incredibly respected writer
Munro is a very well respected author with the likes of Margaret Atwood, Lorrie Moore and Jonathan Franzen counted among her friends and colleagues.
Back in 2004, Franzen's sprawling plea (he says it was not a plea!) on why Munro is such a good writer and why people should read her was punctuated by a six-point quick hits list (everyone loves a listicle!) and made the categorically baffling point of why Munro's excellence exceeds her fame, many times over.
Canadians have known and loved Munro for a long time -- many have frequented the book store Munro and her first husband started in Victoria, others have been indebted to her since their first Canadian Literature class -- but somehow international fame on par with her excellence has always eluded her.
Based on her reaction to receiving the Nobel ("The Swedish Academy has not been able to get a hold of Alice Munro, left a phone message.") she is probably okay with that.
Munro is lousy with awards
Girl has won everything. Everything. The Man Booker International Prize, three Governor General's Literary Awards, the American National Book Critics Circle Award, the Marian Engel Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and two Scotiabank Giller Prizes. There's probably more, but the point has been made that she is celebrated both at home and in the critics' prize circuit.
As much as awards or lack thereof can be meaningless, there is still something to be said of Munro winning all these and the accomplishments behind them. She is in esteemed circles.
Adding the Nobel Prize in Literature to her list of achievements just seems like icing on the cake.
Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
I'm as surprised as you at this statement. Regardless of that fact, it is true. Despite the wealth of Canadian writing talent -- we can name quite a few here, but I'll just say Atwood again, loud and clear for everyone, as the overarching theme of the statement -- Munro is the first.
And, I mean what a first at that!
Munro has always championed her Canadian writing comrades and truly embodies the spirit of the Canadian literature scene, which above and beyond is supporting your fellow writers.
After accepting the award via statement, Munro said "I’m particularly glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians. I’m happy, too, that this will bring more attention to Canadian writing."
What a lady.
Munro is the master of the contemporary short story
If there is one thing to take away from all the Munro congratulation pieces and her achievements, it is that she is bar none the master of the contemporary short story. That phrase has been used so many times, but it doesn't matter, there isn't anything else that can be said.
Even if you don't like short stories, it has been said, you will like Munro's short stories!
Munro never fell into the early categorical genres of "Canadian Pastoral" that were so easily cast aside. Munro writes people. Supremely real people. And she write short stories. Clever, succinct, stories. It has been said many a time it is more difficult to write a short story than an epic novel. Whether that is true or not, Munro seems to have made the case, many, many times over, that she can write them well.
However, after all those points above, there is just one thing that we would really like to say: thanks.
Thank you Alice Munro for inspiring writers Canadian and beyond to write with heart, humour and passion.
Thank you Alice Munro for enriching the Canadian literary landscape with your wonderful stories.
Thank you Alice Munro for promoting women writers and being a wonderful guide for the rest of us.
And most of all, thank you Alice Munro for being masterful with a pen and creating beautiful stories that will continue through to many, many generations.
Image: Derek Shapton/McClelland & Stewart
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